Donna Coakley McGowan's Blog
New windows can work wonders for a house. Depending on how old your windows are, replacements can make your home less drafty, and much quieter, but they can also spruce up a room that’s starting to look dated.
When you replace your windows you also might see a drop in your heating bill. However, the cost of replacing windows is steeper than you’re ever likely to save on heat. So, if you’re thinking of replacing your windows just to save cash, in the long run there might be better ways of doing so.
In this article, we’re going to talk about choosing replacement windows for your home. We’ll walk you through the different types of windows so you can find the type that fits your needs. Read on for our replacement windows buyer’s guide.
Choosing the right window style
There are endless types of windows that you could find in a given home. However, four main styles are what we normally think of when talking about replacement windows.
Single vs double-hung windows
First, there are single and double-hung windows. In double-hung windows, both the top and bottom sash are operable, or able to be opened. Being able to utilize both sashes is beneficial for airflow. Opening the top sash will allow the warm air escape, opening the bottom sash will allow cool air to enter.
In single-hung windows, only the lower sash is able to be opened and closed. But otherwise, they are very similar to double-hung windows.
Both of these types of windows come in variants that allow you to pivot the sashes inward to clean the exterior glass. However, if you buy single-hung windows you’ll only be able to wash the lower sash. Keep that in mind if you’re buying windows for a second floor or attic window.
Sliding windows are those which move horizontally on their tracks. They produce good ventilation and are easy to use. However, just like single-hung and double hung windows, they do slightly obstruct your view at the midpoint when closed. The rectangular shape of sliding windows, however, means you won’t likely be able to install an air conditioner.
Casement style windows
The last main type of window we’ll talk about are casement style windows. This type of window operates on a hinge like a door would. When they’re fully opened, they produce good ventilation. When they’re fully closed, they don’t obstruct the view at all.
However, just like with sliding windows, you won’t be able to install an AC unit. Furthermore, this type of window is more prone to malfunction due to the crank and hinge system, and cranking it open and closed all the time could be a minor annoyance for some homeowners.
Window frames come in four main materials--vinyl, wood, clad-wood, and aluminum.
Vinyl is the most common. They look clean and modern, and they also resist heat and condensation making them easy to maintain.
Wood frames are regaining popularity. Since they often come unfinished, you can easily customize them to your home.
Clad-wood frames are wood on the interior and aluminum on the exterior, making them rugged and resistant to weathering and rot.
Aluminum windows are economical, lightweight, and easy to maintain.
Now that you know a bit more about windows, you’ll be better equipped to decide what type of replacements to purchase for your home.
Homeowners associations are common features of new residential subdivisions, condominiums and townhouse developments, planned communities, and vacation resorts throughout the United States and abroad. Typically established by the builder or developer, such associations are most often responsible for maintenance of common facilities. They also frequently oversee the operation of community centers, pools, golf courses and sports courts, and can assume responsibility for routine repair of streets and/or sidewalks, building exteriors and roofs, and even front yard landscaping and upkeep.
Residents pay a monthly fee to the association, in addition to mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities on their individual properties. Most commonly, the day-to-day operation of a homeowners association will be managed by an independent firm, with oversight from a governing board of homeowners elected to serve, unpaid, for specific terms.
Pay Attention to the CC&Rs
Buying a home in a community with an HOA requires that residents agree to the covenants, conditions and restrictions, known as the CC&Rs. Rules can be relatively simple, outlining the types of fencing allowed or specifying allowable trim colors and landscaping plants. Some HOAs, however, have stringent restrictions, governing varied aspects of community living. Some actively promote community programming while others simply act as a review board to handle disputes or non-compliance with stipulated regulations.
Withholding payment of association dues can lead to legal action, sometimes even foreclosure.
HOAs Uphold Community Standards
Prior to buying property in a subdivision with an HOA, a buyer should be completely familiar with the CC&Rs and understand the financial commitment entailed. All HOAs are committed to uphold community standards and protect property values. That is perhaps the best reason for buying property in an area that has a well-managed, effective and highly-functioning HOA. But it is always up to the buyer to determine the effectiveness of any HOA. The best way is to ask to view previous years' financial statements, and to talk to current owners.
The best homeowners associations foster a heightened sense of community, encouraging social events and offering services to promote safety and security for residents. Neighborhood watch programs, community patrols and emergency response, rideshare programs, and youth-oriented activities are common. In addition, well-run associations have financial reserves to handles unexpected maintenance or repair needs and have a "comfortable" relationship with homeowners.
HOAs were first established to govern the operation of condominium associations, and have sometimes received a bad rap from owners who found them restrictive and expensive. The role of the HOA has changed over the decades, and most are professional and dedicated to the welfare of current and future homeowners. They actively promote and encourage neighborliness, cohesive community spirit and property values.
Belonging to a homeowners association fosters a valuable common bond with other owners, and offers homeowners a real voice in the community.
Few things are more exciting than buying a house and making it your home. Knowing when it’s the right time to buy derives from your personal circumstances, but some external elements and market realities affect when it’s right to buy too.
Here are some of the things that can affect your decision to purchase a home, and the timing to do it.
- Interest rates. Right now, interest rates are low, making housing affordable. Keeping an eye on rates can save you money. You can get pre-approval for a mortgage that locks in a low rate, so check out the programs offered by various lenders to see which one has the most useful option for you.
- Inventory levels. Listed homes in your area that fit your budget, and your criteria, ebb and flow. Develop a relationship with a qualified real estate market specialist to keep tabs on inventory levels, so you know when to buy.
- Increased prices. Supply and demand drive up prices, so if prices begin to increase it may be time to step into the market. Again, your real estate agent can keep you apprised of price fluctuations in the market.
- Income levels. You might simply be waiting for a promised raise or that bonus to plump up your down-payment cache. When that’s the case, notify your agent of your expectation and the timing so that they begin looking for you just ahead of when you’re ready to make the purchase.
- Income tax refunds. Although using the IRS as a savings account is a poor financial strategy, sometimes, you end up with a bigger refund than you’d anticipated. When that happens, and you receive the extra funds, it might be time to make homeownership a reality.
- Investments. When an investment gives you an unexpected return, it might be time to reinvest it into a home.
If any of these are true, you may be financially ready. When making any financial decision—especially huge ones such as buying a home—it's essential to contemplate the reason behind your decision. What do you believe a home provides you? How does it fit into your future goals? Are you willing to tie up your funds in a non-liquid investment? Are you prepared to handle the maintenance? Do you have time for upkeep?
When you feel positive about your answers, reach out to your agent for advice, and to start looking for your new home.
A home showing is a key part of the property buying journey. As such, it helps to plan ahead for a house showing as much as possible. Because if you enter a home showing with a plan in place, you can use this event to help you determine whether a residence is right for you.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready for a home showing.
1. Make a List of Questions
A home showing is a valuable learning experience, particularly for a buyer who crafts a list of questions ahead of time. And if a buyer has a list of home showing questions in hand, he or she can gain the necessary insights to make an informed decision about a residence.
Before you make a list of home showing questions, you may want to review a house listing. Then, consider any information that you want to know about a house that is not included in the listing and craft your home showing questions accordingly.
Also, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a "bad" question to ask during a house showing. If you ask lots of questions during a showing, you can learn about a residence and decide whether to submit an offer to purchase this home.
2. Establish Realistic Expectations
There is no telling how a home showing may turn out. Thus, it is important to plan for the best- and worst-case scenarios.
In the best-case scenario, a buyer will discover his or her ideal residence during a showing. On the other hand, in the worst-case scenario, a buyer will find that a home fails to meet his or her expectations.
Oftentimes, a buyer will need to attend several home showings before he or she discovers the right residence. And if you fail to find your dream residence during your first home showing, there is no harm in continuing your house search and attending other showings in the future.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert, and he or she is happy to help you prepare for a house showing. First, a real estate agent will offer lots of insights into a home and respond to any of your concerns and questions. He or she next will attend a showing with you. After a showing is complete, a real estate agent will meet with you and help you determine the best course of action.
In addition, when you discover your dream home, a real estate agent will do everything possible to ensure you can acquire this residence without delay. A real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream home. Plus, he or she will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf to help you get the best price on this residence.
Ready to attend a home showing? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can plan for a showing and boost the likelihood of a successful home search.
If possible, it helps to maintain a flexible deadline as you navigate the homebuying journey. Because if you have a tight deadline in place, you risk making a rash homebuying decision. And as a result, you may pay too much to acquire a home. Perhaps even worse, you risk purchasing a house that fails to match your expectations.
As you prepare to kick off your homebuying quest, it helps to plan ahead. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to streamline your home search and discover your ideal residence in no time at all.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you accelerate the homebuying journey.
1. Prepare Homebuying Criteria
If you know you want to buy a home, you should put together property buying criteria. That way, you can enter the housing market with a plan in hand to acquire your dream residence.
To establish homebuying criteria, think about where you want to reside. For instance, if you want a home close to parks and other family-friendly attractions, you should hone your house search accordingly. On the other hand, if you need a house that offers quick, easy access to family members, you should search for a home near these relatives.
Consider the features you want to find in your dream home, too. If you make a list of home must-haves, you can focus exclusively on houses that have the features you require.
2. Establish a Budget
Usually, it is beneficial to begin a home search with a mortgage at your disposal. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you will know how much you can spend on a house. Then, you can search for houses that won't force you to exceed your budget.
To obtain a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you everything you need to know about home financing. Plus, they can help you make an informed mortgage selection.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
With a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble performing a successful home search.
A real estate agent is devoted to homebuyers' success, and as such, will do what it takes to help you achieve your desired results. For instance, if you want to buy an affordable house in a small town, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to do just that. Or, if you want to purchase a home near your office in the city, a real estate agent will craft a custom homebuying plan so you can accomplish your goal.
Furthermore, a real estate agent takes the guesswork out of buying a house. If you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent will respond to them – without exception.
Want to enjoy a fast, stress-free homebuying experience? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you may be better equipped than ever before to seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.