Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 1/31/2018

1. Buy for the long run. Assume youíll own your home for at least five years.

A home is a significant investment, not to mention a linchpin of stability. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, the majority of Americans who sold their homes last year had lived in their home for at least a decade before selling.

Some are even staying for the long haul. Almost half (46 percent) of all homeowners are like me ó living in the first home we ever purchased. In short: Buy a home you want to live in ó one equipped (or ready to be equipped) with the features and space you need, both now and in the future.

2. Buy to improve your life, not to speculate with your money.

Your home is more than a financial investment; itís where you sleep, eat, host friends, raise your children ó itís where your life happens.

The housing market is too unpredictable to buy a (primary) home purely because you think it will net a big short-term financial return. You will most likely be living in this home for several years, regardless of how it appreciates, so your first priority should be finding a home that will meet your needs and help you build the life you want.

3. Focus on whatís important to you. Donít be distracted by features you donít need.

Todayís housing market is short on inventory, with 10 percent fewer homes on the market in November 2017 than November 2016.

So, focus on finding a home you can afford that meets your needs ó but donít get distracted by shiny features that might break your budget. Nice-to-have features often drive up the price tag for things you donít particularly value once the initial enjoyment wears off.

Make a list of your basic needs, both for your desired home and for your desired neighborhood. Stick to finding a home that meets these needs, without buying extra stuff that adds up.

4. Determine a budget and stick to it. Donít look at houses above that budget.

Itís important to set a budget early ó ideally before you even start looking at homes. In todayís market, especially in the more competitive markets, itís incredibly easy to go over budget ó 29 percent of buyers who purchased last year did.

The most common culprit? Location. Zillowís data indicates that urban buyers are significantly more likely to go over budget (42 percent) than suburban (25 percent) or rural (20 percent) buyers.

Thereís nothing inherently wrong with that. Local schools matter, and psychologists tell us that a short commute improves your life. But be realistic about your local market and about yourself. Know what youíre willing to compromise on ó be it less square footage, home repairs or a different neighborhood.

5. A 20 percent down payment is ideal. If you canít afford that, consider a smaller down payment, or lower your budget.

If you can afford it, a 20 percent down payment is ideal for three reasons:

  • Buyers who donít put a full 20 percent down pay a premium, most commonly in the form of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is less financially punishing than it used to be, given todayís low mortgage rates. A monthly mortgage payment (with PMI) may be lower than a monthly rental payment in many markets ó but still.
  • Buyers who put more down upfront typically make fewer offers and buy faster than those who put less down. Zillow research found that buyers with higher down payments make 1.9 offers on average, compared to 2.4 offers for buyers with lower down payments (after controlling for market conditions).
  • A higher down payment reduces your financial risk. You donít want to owe more money than your house is worth if local markets dip when you need to sell.

6. Keep a six-month strategic reserve after down payment. Stuff happens.

While a down payment is a significant expense, itís also important to build up a strategic reserve and keep it separate from your normal bank account.

This reserve should cover six months of living expenses in case you get sick, face an unexpected expense or lose your job. A strategic reserve will not only save you from financial hardship in the event of an emergency but also provide peace of mind.

When we accumulated a strategic reserve, my wife and I finally felt ready to build for our future. Without it, we were living from paycheck to paycheck, anxiously managing our cash flow rather than saving or budgeting.

7. Get pre-approved, and if you want to avoid uncertainty down the road, stick with a boring 30- or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

The pre-approval process requires organizing all your paperwork; documenting your income, debt and credit; and understanding all the loan options available to you. Itís a bit of a pain, but it saves time later. Pre-approval also shows sellers that youíre a reliable buyer with a strong financial footing. Most importantly, it helps you understand what you can afford.

There are a variety of mortgage types, and itís important to evaluate all of them to see which is best for your family and financial situation. Those boring 30- and 15-year mortgages offer big advantages.

The biggest is locking in your mortgage rate. In short: A 30-year fixed mortgage has a specific fixed rate of interest that doesnít change for 30 years. A 15-year fixed mortgage does the same.

These typically have lower rates but higher monthly payments, since you must pay it off in half the time. Conventional fixed-rate mortgages help you manage your household budgeting because you know precisely how much youíll be paying every month for many years. Theyíre simple to understand, and current rates are low.

One final advantage is that they donít tempt you with a low initial payment to buy more house than you can afford.

8. Comparison shop to get the best mortgage.

Though a home is the biggest purchase many of us will ever make, most home buyers donít shop around for a mortgage (52 percent consider only a single lender).

I certainly didnít. This did save me some annoying phone calls and hassle, but it cost me $40 or $50 every month, for years. The difference of half a percentage point in your mortgage rate can add up to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. Itís important to evaluate all the available options to make sure youíre going with the lender who meets your needs ó not just the first one you contact.

The three most important factors to buyers are that the lender offers a loan program that caters to their specific needs (76 percent), has the most competitive rates (74 percent) and has a history of closing on time (63 percent).

9. Spend no more than a third of your after-tax income on housing (unless you live in an especially pricey market).

Itís better to regret spending too little on your home than spending too much. One-third of your after-tax income is a manageable amount. This isnít always possible if you live in a place like San Francisco or New York, but itís still a good yardstick for where to be.

10. When getting ready to buy, always be willing to walk away.

Buying a home is a time-consuming, stressful but ultimately rewarding endeavor ó if you end up closing on a home that meets your needs. But itís important to manage your expectations in case you donít immediately find a home you can afford with the features you need.

Always be prepared to walk away if the sellers donít accept your offer, the home doesnít pass a rigorous inspection or the timing isnít right. Hold fast to your list of must-haves, stick to what you can afford and donít overreach or settle.

Itís no tragedy to miss out on any particular house. Remember that youíre playing the long game. You want to be happy 10 years from now.

Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 1/24/2018

Make sure your vehicle is properly stocked if youíre traveling through snowy or treacherous conditions this winter.†

  1. Extra gloves and an extra hat. I admittedly leave the house without either most days. If I were to get stuck or simply need to clear snow accumulation on the windows, having a pair handy would make things more comfortable.
  2. Brushes and ice scrapers. I recommend the kind of brush with extendable handle, so you can reach the snow on top of the roof of the car or truck easily. This will prevent white-out conditions for those who drive behind you by clearing that snow before you hit the road!
    • A flashlight. Always handy.
  3. An extra gallon of windshield washer fluid. Because your tank will inevitably run dry at the most inconvenient time.
  4. A small shovel†has come in handy for me more than once. From clearing out snow that settles deep around cars in parking lots, to using it for clearing away snow that jams in your wheel wells, itís a nice to have. If you get stuck and want to keep the car running, use it to keep the tailpipe cleared for exhaust. (If you come across someone who is stuck, itís a nice tool to give them, as well, since small shovels are inexpensive Ė less than $10)
  5. An extra set of floor mats.†I havenít needed to try this myself yet, but Iíve heard keeping an inexpensive set of floor mats on hand is useful for generating traction beneath tires if you get stuck. Place them in front of the tire, and inch your way out of a snowdrift.
  6. Jumper cables. Another nice-to-have for helping other drivers. If youíve ever had a dead battery, you can probably relate to how happy you are when someone offers you a jolt.
  7. Extra power source. An extra source for charging your phone is something you should consider, rain, snow or shine. Keep an extra USB charge cord for it on hand too. Some of the newer power sources have built-in flashlights, and others even have enough power to jumpstart your car.
  8. An extra blanket. Weíve all heard about cars getting stuck and then buried by plows Ė you never know. Be prepared for the worst case scenario.
  9. Flares. Know how to use them too, so you can station them around your vehicle if youíre stranded.
  10. Lip moisturizer. This may seem like an eye-roller, but one day you will be†so happy†when you remember you have that extra ChapStick in your console on a -10-degree windchill day.

Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 1/24/2018

Cleaning drains: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda in the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar; the mixture will foam as it cleans and deodorizes. Use every few weeks to keep drains clean.

Mildew on plastic shower curtains: Put the shower curtain in the washing machine with light-colored towels; add 1 cup white vinegar to the detergent and wash.

Soap scum on shower: Spray on vinegar, scrub and rinse.

Toilet hard-water rings: Shut off water at the tank and flush to remove as much water as possible. Spray vinegar on the ring, sprinkle in borax and scrub with drywall sandpaper.

Shower head deposits: Pour white vinegar into a plastic bag, tape to the shower head and leave overnight. Brush the shower head to remove remaining deposits.

Softening laundry: Fill dispenser with 1/4 cup white vinegar to soften laundry without leaving odors.

Cleaning vinyl floors: Add 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 gallon hot water for spotless floors.

Cleaning windows: Mix 50 percent white vinegar with 50 percent water in a spray bottle. Spray glass surfaces and wipe dry.

Neutralize pet odors: Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. Pour on stained areas and blot; never rub to remove stains and odors.

Greasy dishes: Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar to liquid dish soap to boost its cleaning power.

Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 1/17/2018

We just sold our†model home in Stoney Ridge Estates!† Out of 60 home sites, we have only 14 left to be built on!† Don't delay!† This is your chance to live in†Dighton's premier,one-of-a-kind†neighborhood.† We also have a beautifully finished one-level custom ranch loaded with amenities†ready for occupancy and are currently building a two-level custom home which will be ready in 60 days!† Call JoAnn Drabble for more information at 508-930-1711 or email JoAnn at

Posted by JoAnn M. Drabble on 1/17/2018

Check out more details about the home here:

Last home available†to purchase†in The Pines, and then we are SOLD OUT!!† Step into this designer ranch style home loaded with amenities(over $20,000 in builder's upgrades).† This home is under construction and will be ready in 60 days!† Offered at $429,900.† Call JoAnn Drabble for more information at 508-930-1711 or email JoAnn at

JoAnn M. Drabble