When you purchase a home, you need to factor in costs. Not only do you need to factor in the price of the home and mortgage/taxes. You also need to consider the actual costs of maintaining your home. Don’t forget about the following bills that could add up and require a big chunk of cash each year.


Each home usually pays utilities such as electric, phones, cable/internet and water. One thing I learned the hard way is that these items can really add up. Is your home well insulated? Your heating and cooling bills may be high if your windows don’t keep the warm air in and cold air out. Your thermostat will be pumping to keep up with the temperature. This means a hefty electric bill. Make sure you shop around for electric and do an apples to apples comparison to make sure you are getting the best deal on electric. Do you have a large family that requires many baths/showers or loads of laundry. This could affect your water bill. Depending on how big your house is and what you and your family desire you may have a large cable bill. How many cable boxes do you need? The more you need the higher your bill will be. Do you have a lot of members of your family? That may require a higher quality and faster internet speed, which means charges added to your bill. 

Outdoor Maintenance

Do you have a lot of land and landscaping? Your yard needs to be mowed in spring, summer, and fall. If you plan on doing it you may need to purchase a large lawnmower which could be a large amount of money. If you plan on paying someone to do it than you need to add that to your monthly budget. Same with landscaping and weeding. Who will mulch and weed? If you are doing it yourself it still costs money to purchase the materials. If you are paying someone than you need to take that into consideration as well. Do you have a large driveway? Do you live somewhere where it snows? A snow removal service may be required, or a purchase of a snow blower is needed. Fall also requires a cleanup of the leaves.


Most people don’t want to think about it but often times things may happen to your home that may require fixing or maintenance. Roofs, plumbing, heating and cooling equipment, etc. are not only high maintenance but highly costly to replace and fix. This means that it is expensive to have someone come out and repair or maintain, but the cost of materials is high as well.

All of these things need to be considered when evaluating your budget or even when you are going to purchase a home.

Spring Cleaning

Spring is in full swing so most people tend to think about their spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a thing because it happens when winter is finally over and the weather starts to get warmer which motivates people to get their house in order. Spring cleaning doesn’t just involve a deep thorough clean, it involves organizing and decluttering. Anything that it takes to make your house a better place to live. Below are some tips to help you start the process if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed.


Obviously the first step to spring cleaning is to clean. This isn’t just your normal tidying up that you normally do. This is an intense clean of every room. You should dust and wipe down all surfaces including windows, baseboards, moulding, cabinets and appliances. In the bathrooms you should clean out the shelves in your medicine cabinet, vanity and linen closet. In the kitchen you should wipe down your appliances, toe kicks and shelves. All floors must be cleaned as well. Now is a good time to wash the outside of your windows and also clean your screens so you can enjoy the spring breeze. My recommendation is to do room by room until complete. You could also hire a cleaning service to do a deep thorough clean but it could cost your a pretty penny.


The main part of spring cleaning that makes it different than your everyday cleaning is that you should organize your house as well. This is the time to organize drawers, closets, etc. The main place people need to organize is their garage or storage area. Go through this space this time of year and get rid of what you don’t need or haven’t used in a lot of time. This is why yard sales are so common this time of year. People want to get rid of their stuff! You can host a yard sale to sell your things, do an online yard sale (I have found some on facebook) or there are also consignment shops that may want to pay you for your things. If you don’t want to sell your items it is also nice to donate to a charity. I have used such services as green drop to donate to the charity of my choice since they have a few they work with. If you have children’s items you no longer need you can always give to a friend in need who may be having a child. Kitchen and bathroom drawers and closets should be reviewed to see if anything is not being used or is even expired. Clothes drawers and closets should be looked through as well. All of this will make you feel like a whole weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.

This is the basics to having a successful spring cleaning. There are many ways to organize your efforts but I guess any step is a step in the right direction. Especially if you aren’t doing this already. A happy and decluttered house leads to a happy family.

3 Steps to Improve Your Chance of Qualifying for a Home Loan

Preparing to buy a home can be exciting as well as frustrating and intimidating. Of course, looking at homes and imagining your family living there is the exciting part. Dealing with the financial aspect, though, can be both frustrating and intimidating.

If you’re planning to buy a home in the next few years, here are some things you may want to do to spruce up your financial standing and look more attractive to a lender such as Newcastle Permanent or another bank you may choose to work with:

1. Clean up your credit report. Order your credit report for free and check it carefully. Most credit reports contain errors. You may find that your name is spelled wrong, or a creditor shows that you still have an outstanding balance when you’ve actually paid off the debt.

You’ll need to go through the process of requesting a change in your credit report as well as including proof of the change you are requesting. Do this at least 6 to 12 months in advance of applying for your home loan so you can have the highest credit score possible.

2. Pay down your debts. You’ll have a better chance of securing a loan with a low debt to credit ratio. Try to pay off all outstanding credit cards. If you can pay off other debt like student loan debt, that will help, too. Not only is this a smart move to get the loan, but also to afford a home in general.

3. Save as much as you can for the down payment. Aim to save 10 to 20% of the home’s purchase price for the down payment. The more you can save, the better the financial benefits, especially if you can save 20% and avoid paying costly private mortgage insurance.

Preparing to buy a house is exciting, but before you even begin to look for a property, you must first take the steps to make your finances as solid as possible. You should begin doing this one to three years before you actually plan to buy a home.

5 Reasons a Lender May Reject Your Mortgage Application

The necessary paperwork that is mandatory to complete for a mortgage application can often be a difficult task to undertake. After finding your dream home, the last thing you want is to then find yourself receiving a call from the lender stating that they have declined the loan. You may even ask yourself what could have caused this to happen. Mortgage applications haven’t changed over the years but the current lending requirements have.

Today’s financial institutions have strict guidelines in place making it difficult for consumers to obtain a loan. The following are five factors that could have an impact on whether a financial institution will lend money for a mortgage.  

1. Changing Employment

Switching jobs may not have an impact on a person’s ability to qualify for a mortgage, but you may be at a disadvantage if you have recently changed companies. If you make a move within the company to a position with the same or greater pay scale, you shouldn’t need to worry.  People who are dependent on commissions or bonuses may suffer a greater risk of getting rejected by the lender. Financial institutions find applicants who have been with the company for two or more years more favourable when lending money. Those with the greatest disadvantage are people who leave a salaried position and start a business venture on their own. Lenders like to see stability and records from a two year period, so they can plan future income appropriately. Furthermore, an applicant that is self-employed could have more expenses to write off, and their income taxes reflect the minimal net income that is reported.

2. Changes in your Credit that have an Impact on Your Credit Score

Equifax, Experian or Transunion are a few of the companies that the lender may use to check the applicants credit history. It can take anywhere from one to three months for a home loan to go through, and the lender may do a final credit check before fully committing to a loan. It’s important to not do anything that could have a negative impact on your credit score during this time. The activities that could prevent your loan from going through include making a late payment, or applying for another type of loan or credit card. It’s in the consumer’s best interest to obtain a copy of their credit report and correct any items that are wrong.  

3. Failing to make your Current Mortgage or other Payments

People who fail to make their monthly mortgage payments or cannot pay their other bills are showing the lender that they are a poor credit risk. If an applicant is having a hard time paying their current mortgage, they should consult with the mortgage holder and see if there are any other options in place, so they can meet the repayment terms on their loan.

4. Too Much Credit Card Debt and Numerous Outstanding Loans

Lenders will take into account an individual’s consumer debt and the mortgage payment, and see how it correlates with their income. The basic rule most lenders follow is approximately 33 percent of an applicant’s gross income with an added five percent for consumer debt. The lender will also look into the available credit a borrower has to utilize, so you may want to think about closing a credit card account or reducing the maximum limit that is allowed.

5. Failure to Complete the Basics

Some financial institutions make it easy and are able to complete the loan application process over the phone. However, many institutions require the individual to physically fill out the form. It’s simple to make mistakes or leave items blank when an applicant rushes through the process and hasn’t filled out the necessary paperwork properly. A lending institution can refuse an application based on these mistakes, so you need to make sure to take the time and go over everything thoroughly. It’s also possible to hire a mortgage broker, attorney or financial adviser to help with the application process and have it all checked before presenting everything to the lender.  These are the primary reasons a lender may refuse an applicant’s mortgage. To make sure this doesn’t happen, an individual should maintain good credit and keep their debt ratio as low as possible. This will have a positive impact on whether their home mortgage is approved.


Andrew Potter is a finance and property expert and writes for www.myonlineestateagent.com. My Online Estate Agent provides a new alternative to your standard high-street estate agent.