From 1970 to 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household shrank by 27 percent, but the average square footage of homes grew by 66 percent. There are several theories as to why this is happening. First of all, people want a higher standard of living. Maybe it’s about keeping up with the Joneses. Maybe it’s because of the breakdown of the American family, which makes us need more space in which to avoid one another.
Whatever the case, do we really need the extra space? In 1950, a family of four could live well in a 1,500 square foot home. Why can’t we do that today?
Aside from the price tag attached to a larger home, consider the higher property taxes and insurance rates. A bigger home also costs more to heat, cool, maintain and repair.
Renting vs. Owning
Consider renting – it’s controversial advice for Americans, who’ve been taught that part of the American Dream is to own a home. But in recent years, this American Dream has become a nightmare as mortgage rates and rising unemployment have forced many to lose their homes. While mortgage rates have hit on the high side, rental rates have remained quite manageable.
If you purchase a home, be realistic about the size of the home. Do you really need five bedrooms, or can your family make do with three and save the difference? When it comes to this question, size really does matter. And remember: you can search the sale papers each Sunday for the rest of your life, and you’ll never find a coupon for $30,000 off on a new home.
When you search for a home, shop for a mortgage. By doing so, you can find the best rate from lenders you may have never even heard of. Learn to negotiate, whether you are renting or buying, in order to get the best deal.
Insuring Your Home
If you own your home, you know you must have homeowner’s insurance. The price you pay for that insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the company you purchase your policy from. When seeking to purchase this type of insurance, shop around. Check consumer guides, insurance agencies, companies and online insurance quote services. This will give you an idea of the price ranges and tell you who’s got the lowest prices.
You may want to consider purchasing your car and homeowner’s insurance from the same insurer. There are often discounts for doing so.
When shopping for a home, consider factors that could save you money and save you 5 to 15 percent on your premiums:
- The home is close to a fire hydrant.
- The home is near a professional, not volunteer, fire department.
- The home’s heating, electrical and plumbing systems are less than 10 years old.
- If you’re in the eastern portion of the country, consider a brick home, which is more wind-resistant.
- If you are buying home in an earthquake-prone area, look for a wooden frame house because it will more likely withstand that type of disaster.
Maintaining Your Home
Remember that there are things you can do on a regular basis to maintain your home that will save you money. These things include:
- Close the fireplace damper when not in use.
- Fix leaky faucets.
- Unclog slow-running drains.
- Inspect and test smoke and fire alarms. Replace the batteries regularly.
- Inspect and replace filters regularly in your air conditioner, furnace and pool. Keep the compressor unit of central air conditioner clean as well.
- Inspect the foundation for water penetration, settlement and cracks.
- Clean the gutters and downspouts.
- Inspect and treat the exterior wood for splintering, decay and damage.
- Check the roof for leaks or warping.
- Check for loose or cracked caulking around tiles, sinks, tubs, showers, toilets and counters.
- Inspect and replace weather stripping around doors and windows.
- Trim trees or shrubs touching the roof or exterior of the home.
About the Guest Author
Angye M. is the contributing editor for AmericaOneUnsecured.com. They help consumers nationwide obtain personal loans and business loans. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact PF Stock at the Email address listed in the sidebar.