Joyce Crommett, Westborough MA Real Estate, Southborough MA Real Estate, Northborough MA Real Estate


Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re upgrading to a larger house to fit your family’s needs, it’s vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.

When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.

  • What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget

  • What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost

These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.

So, in today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.

A smart home buying budget

To create an effective budget, you’ll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).

On your spreadsheet, you’ll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.

Next, is the hard part--expenses. We can’t just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.

If you aren’t sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.

Likewise, it’s also a good idea to assume you’ll be paying more in utilities if you’re hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so it’s a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes you’re interested in to determine what your costs might be.

Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.

Deciding what you need in a home

The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what you’re looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.

So, to really answer this question you’ll need a strong understanding of what you and your family’s goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.

Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home you’re looking for and just how much home you can afford.


A home showing will help you gain the insights you need to make an informed decision about a house purchase. At the same time, you may have many concerns about whether a residence is right for you, even after you complete a home showing.

Ultimately, there are many questions to consider after you finish a house showing to ensure you can make the right choice about a residence, and these include:

1. How did I feel as I walked through a home?

Oftentimes, homebuyers try to envision what life may be like if they purchase a residence. As these buyers walk through a house during a showing, it sometimes can be simple to imagine the possibilities if you buy this residence. On the other hand, it may be tough to envision a future in a particular home if a house fails to match or exceed your expectations.

Think about how you felt as you explored each room in a house during a showing. If you left a home showing with a good feeling about a residence, it may be beneficial to submit an offer or set up a follow-up showing. Conversely, if a home showing left you feeling uncomfortable with a residence, you may want to continue your search for your dream house.

2. Are there any major issues with a home?

Generally, it is a good idea to ask lots of questions about a house during a showing. This will enable you to learn about the condition of a home and determine whether major repairs are necessary.

A home in need of significant upgrades offers opportunities for homebuyers who are looking for a "fixer-upper" house. In fact, if you submit an offer on a fixer-upper home, you may be able to perform assorted repairs to enhance a house's condition and value.

Comparatively, if you are unwilling to perform substantial home upgrades, there is no need to worry. You can always forego submitting an offer on a house after a showing, and by doing so, continue your pursuit for your ideal home.

3. Is a home a viable long-term investment?

As a homebuyer, it is important to find a house that will serve you well both now and in the future. Because if you fail to do so, you risk purchasing a house that will only decline in value in the years to come.

If you feel that a home is a viable long-term investment following a showing, you may want to submit an offer to acquire this residence. Then, if a seller accepts your offer, you can conduct a home inspection and move forward in the homebuying process.

Lastly, as you consider what to do after a home showing, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you evaluate the pros and cons of submitting an offer on a particular residence. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will offer expert tips to ensure you can find your dream residence in no time at all.


Shopping for a home is an exciting time for any hopeful homeowner. After weeks of scouring listings looking for the perfect home in the ideal location for you and your family, it can seem like you’ve found the needle in the haystack.

When it’s time to go visit that home, it’s easy to put on rose-colored lenses and overlook issues that should, at the very least, be taken into consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not you should make a bid on the home and how much you should offer.

Today’s post is all about preparing you for that first viewing. We’ll give you tips on what to look out for and how to factor these things into your equation when it comes to making an offer.

Check the listing for omissions

Even if a home looks perfect on paper (or on its website listing), it’s still quite likely that there are things you’ll want to know about before considering an offer. A home listing should attempt to address several questions you might have. But ultimately, it’s main goal is to attract interest in the home.

So, what type of things should be in the listing that the seller might leave out?

  • Poor street conditions, heavy traffic, and blind driveways are all things that will factor into your decision but most likely won’t be mentioned in a listing

  • Odors of any kind can be off-putting and difficult to remove. Some homeowners may not even know that their home has an offensive odor if they’ve become used to it.

  • Room omissions. If the home is listed as having two bathrooms but there are only photos of one, this could be a sign that there are problems with the second bathroom that the seller doesn’t want you to see quite yet.

Top dollar home repairs

A professional home inspection will be able to give you an idea of the kind of money you’ll need to spend on renovations in the coming years. But why wait? When touring a home, ask questions about the last time important renovations and repairs were made.

Roofs, septic systems, and electrical work are just a few of the things that are expensive to repair or replace. If the previous homeowner has a small family or lives alone and you plan on moving in with a houseful of kids, you might find that your impact on the septic and electrical systems of the home are too much for the house to handle. You’ll want to take this into account before considering a bid on the home.

Utility costs

The cost of heating a home in the winter and keeping it cool in the summer can be hefty if the home isn’t properly sealed and weatherproofed. Ask the current homeowner what they spend per month on utilities to get an idea of what you might be spending.

Then, take a look at the windows and doors. Cracks, malfunctioning locks, and worn weatherstripping are all signs that the home will need some work to be energy-efficient.

Don’t ignore the little things

Small fixes may not seem like a big deal when viewing a home. They can even deceive you into thinking that you’re getting a good deal by buying a fixer-upper for a price that’s lower than the market average.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that small fixes around the house are a sign that bigger problems are also being neglected. Don’t be too quick to assume the house will be a good deal before getting it professionally inspected.


For those who want to buy a home, it generally is a good idea to remain open to negotiating with a seller. That way, you can acquire your dream residence without delay.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you streamline a negotiation with a home seller.

1. Be Flexible

There is no telling how a home negotiation will turn out. Fortunately, if you maintain flexibility, you will be able to go with the flow throughout a negotiation with a seller.

Remember, a homebuyer and home seller share a common goal: to ensure a seamless transaction. If you are open to negotiating with a seller, both you and this individual can work together to achieve results that satisfy all parties.

Don't forget to maintain open lines of communication with a seller during a negotiation as well. By doing so, you and a seller can keep in touch with one another throughout a negotiation and avoid potential miscommunications that otherwise could slow down or stop a home purchase.

2. Establish Realistic Expectations

A home negotiation may work out in your favor or a seller's favor. Or, in the best-case scenario, you and a seller will come to terms that fulfill the needs of both sides. On the other hand, in the worst-case scenario, you may need to walk away from a home purchase altogether.

As a homebuyer, it is important to prepare for all possible scenarios. If you establish realistic expectations as you enter a home negotiation, you can plan accordingly. Then, you and a seller can work together to accomplish the optimal results.

You may want to study the housing market closely too. In fact, you can review the prices of available houses that are comparable to the one you want to buy to ensure your offer to purchase falls in line with the current housing market's conditions.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is well-equipped to help you handle a homebuying negotiation. Thus, if you work with a real estate agent, you can get the assistance you need to acquire your dream house at a price that matches your budget.

Typically, a real estate agent will learn about your homebuying goals and help you discover your ideal residence. Once you find a house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase this home. Next, if a seller wants to negotiate the terms of a home transaction, a real estate agent is ready to negotiate with this individual on your behalf.

A real estate agent also will keep you informed throughout a home negotiation. Plus, if you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is prepared to respond to them.

Want to acquire your dream house as quickly as possible? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble handling a home negotiation with any seller, at any time.


Before you launch a home search, it helps to prepare for the property buying journey as much as possible. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to get ready to find your dream house.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prep for a home search.

1. Establish Homebuying Criteria

If you know you want to buy a home, it generally is a good idea to define your ideal residence as well. That way, you can streamline your house search.

Consider where you want to reside. For example, if you work in the city, you may want to focus on houses in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you plan to return to school, you may want to search for a home near top colleges and universities.

Think about what features you want in your ideal home, too. If you have always wanted to own a home that boasts a luxurious outdoor swimming pool, for instance, you can map out your home search accordingly. Or, if you want to purchase a residence that features a state-of-the-art kitchen, you can search for a home that offers this amenity.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

A mortgage typically is a must-have, regardless of where and when you search for a home. And if you enter the housing market with a mortgage at your disposal, you will know precisely how much you can spend on a residence.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can be simple. If you meet with banks and credit unions in your area, you can review your options and select a mortgage that complements your finances.

If you have concerns about home financing, don't hesitate to ask questions. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, diligent mortgage specialists who can respond to your home financing queries. As such, you can work with these specialists to gain the home financing insights you need to make the best-possible mortgage decision.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

As you get set to conduct a home search, there is no need to work alone. If you hire a real estate agent, you can collaborate with a homebuying expert who can take the guesswork out of finding and purchasing a house.

A real estate agent is happy to provide guidance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she can offer tips and recommendations to ensure you can find a terrific home at a price that matches your budget. Plus, a real estate agent will simplify the process of setting up home showings. Perhaps best of all, if you are uncertain about whether to submit an offer to purchase a home, a real estate agent is ready to provide insights to help you analyze all of your options.

Dedicate time and resources to prepare for the homebuying journey. By doing so, you can enter the housing market with the insights you need to succeed.




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