A Great Formula For Calculating Home Affordability

A Great Formula For Calculating Home Affordability

illustration of home with price tag affordability norma langston blog

For first time home buyers, getting your foot into the market is difficult. At its core, it comes down to how much you can save and how fast. Saving up for enormous purchases, like a home, can take many years and sometimes decades. If you’re living at your parent’s house, saving is obviously easier because you don’t have expenses. If you’re renting, it can be very difficult to save for a home when you have to contend with everyday living expenses. Additionally, it’s difficult gauging how much you need to save or rather, calculating how large a home you can afford based on what you’ve saved and how much money you have coming in.

First time home buyers, especially those living with their parents, have difficulty gauging this because it’s difficult for them to conceptualize the full cost of owning a home. They’re looking at down payment and mortgage, but often miscalculating all the other expenses, like insurance, repairs, maintenance, utilities and on and on. Unpacking each expense and how it relates to you can be tedious, alternatively, analysts have devised an easy to calculate system where you can determine exactly how much home you can afford, based on your income and down payment:

1) Your Household Income

When determining how much home you can afford the first step is calculating what your total household income is. Another important factor is determining how secure your job is and how difficult it would be to find a similar paying job. Once you’re comfortable determining your household income, you take the total gross amount and multiply by three; that’s the maximum amount the final negotiated price should be. Please keep in mind that’s the maximum, not the standard, you ideally want to aim for below that.

2) 28 (28/36 Rule)

The 28/36 rule is a well-known metric that aids in determining a home’s affordability in relation to you. Focussing on the 28 portion, this represents the maximum percentage of your monthly household income you should allocate per month for fixed costs, like your mortgage, insurance, utilities and taxes. Take your total gross monthly household income, divide it by 0.28 and aim for well below the number your calculator spews out.

3) 36 (28/36 Rule)

36 refers to debt to income ratio, debt to income ratio is calculated by determining how much of your monthly income goes toward monthly debt payments. A lot of people tend to omit their home mortgage, which is the most important debt to account for. When all is said and done you should aim for below 36%. If your calculation is coming even slightly above 36%, you should determine if a raise if forthcoming, if not, reconsider.

4) Pick 2 Rule

Once you’ve ran all your numbers, there’s a good chance reality has dealt you a solid blow to the face and you’re likely a little dazed at this point, contemplating if homeownership is the right path or if you should just start or continue renting. It’s important to understand that the most important thing you need to consider with your first property is that the main purpose is to get your foot in the door. As time progresses and your career advances, there are always options to upgrade in the future. This is where the pick 2 rule comes in; you’re going to have to make sacrifices, the only thing in your power is what you sacrifice. When selecting your starter home, pick two of the following: PRICE – QUALITY – LOCATION.

When you are ready to buy your home, whether it’s your first, or you have been renting for a long time and want to become a homeowner again, contact Norma to find out what your mortgage and purchase options are.

Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll For 5th Year Running

Real Estate Tops Best Investment Poll For 5th Year Running


Every year, Gallup surveys Americans to determine their choice for the best long-term investment. Respondents are given a choice between real estate, stocks/mutual funds, gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

For the fifth year in a row, real estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment!

This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26%. The full results are shown in the chart below.


The study makes it a point to draw attention to the contrast in the sentiment over the last five years compared to that of 2011-2012, when gold took the top slot with 34% of the votes. Real estate and stocks took second and third place, respectively, while still in recovery from the Great Recession.


As the real estate market has recovered, so has the belief of the American people in the stability of housing as a long-term investment.

When you are ready to buy or sell real estate, contact Norma, she gets the job done!

Creative Ways to Maximize Your Storage Space

Creative Ways to Maximize Your Storage Space

Creative Ways to Maximize Your Storage Space

When you move into a new home, the last thing you have trouble with is filling up your storage space. Even if you’re a new homeowner or moving into a very large house, it’s just matter of time before all that storage space is used up. The problem is many people resign themselves to the perception that all their storage space is used up and there’s nothing they can do about it. The truth is there are many creative storage solutions that you can employ to maximize your storage space. The following ideas can help!

1. Spray Bottles Under The Sink

The cabinet under the sink is precious real estate for a wide variety of cleaning products, dishrags, garbage bags, garbage, compost, and recycling. It can really get busy and disorganized down there. Often times you have to resort to taking up precious storage place elsewhere for many of the items. It’s important however to think 3 dimensionally. Use a tension rod to hang spray bottles under the sink and free up room for other items.

2. Bathroom

Powder rooms aren’t generally an issue, we’re talking about your personal bathrooms where you shower and groom yourself. There’s often no space for towels, toiletries, toilet paper, hair dryers, hair curlers and the list is endless. Install some rails on the walls and hang some nice baskets that fit in with your bathroom décor. A few baskets are equivalent to all the storage space in your vanity.

3. Shoe Organizers

Shoe organizers need not only be used for shoes. However, they are excellent for storing shoes behind your door and giving yourself a ton of extra space on the floor of your closet. Another great option is to store some household items in them. One great example is hanging one on the laundry closet door and storing all your cleaning supplies. Not only will it free up a lot of shelving, it will give you easier and visible access to your cleaning supplies.

4. Storage Friendly Furniture

When furniture shopping always keeps storage in mind. Although that glass coffee table may look nice, there are plenty of popular coffee tables that double as storage with big drawers. The same goes for ottomans. When choosing an ottoman, restrict your choices to ottomans that come with a storage element. For kids beds, buy the ones that have drawers under the mattress. There are infinite options for different pieces, always be mindful of this.

5. DVD’s and CD’s

First and foremost, you shouldn’t have any of these, period. In the age we live in, everything can be stored electronically; these won’t be around for much longer. For those who insist on keeping them for nostalgia or other reasons, you can downsize the space they take up dramatically. Remove all the discs from their cases and place them in a book with sleeves. The vast majority DVD’s and CD’s is useless packaging.Store your lids in that old CD rack!!

6.  Hang Pots and Pans

Double up your storage space by purchasing over the cabinet/door hooks and baskets. This will allow you to organize and store your most used items behind your cabinet doors and bathroom/closet doors.

Feasting on Thankfulness

Feasting on Thankfulness

Greetings everyone and happy Thanksgiving! I am SO looking forward to a delicious holiday where we will be feasting on THANKFULNESS!  I hope you have big plans with your loved ones, I would love to hear about some of the things you plan to do and food you will be cooking.

The holidays can often be synonymous with stress (who doesn’t love discussing politics over turkey), it also reminds us that there’s no place like home. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we’re truly grateful for and being surrounded by loved ones is the perfect example. So whether you plan to watch your favorite football team, have one too many glasses of wine, or score major Black Friday deals, be sure to enjoy some much-needed R&R with your closest friends and family.

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving filled with love and laughter! I am grateful for your business, your friendship and support this year.


The Art of Minimalism and How to Bring It Home

The Art of Minimalism and How to Bring It Home

Minimalism, which has become a real estate agent’s favorite trend recently, is characterized by great simplicity and spareness. The idea is to make each room look more spacious and inviting by drawing attention to only a few detailed components.

Consider these four principles if you want to stage your next home in the minimalist style:

1. Lose the needless

One of the biggest influences of minimalism is Japan’s Zen culture that emphasizes simplicity and the present. This means getting rid of the needless, which in your case may include a lamp or extra chair that isn’t essential to make the room look good. While writers urge each other to “omit needless words,” we suggest you omit needless items.

Instead, keep your home staged with furniture and accessories that are necessary to the function and form of the area. Doing so with each room, whether you’re dealing with a kitchen or master bedroom, will allow the place to evoke a consistent style. Less clutter makes rooms in a home look more spacious and allows potential buyers to have an easier time envisioning their own belongings in the room.

2. Focus on the details

The art of minimalism is all about doing more with less. This means that every piece in the room will receive much more attention and thus should be carefully chosen to evoke the feeling you want each particular space to have. These items will look better and really make the room look attractive if you keep things clean and sophisticated.

On that note, avoid trying to hide things. Since the art of minimalism is all about sparseness, you’re doing it wrong if you’re able to hide needless objects behind other extras. Like we said before, remove unnecessary items so that buyers touring the home will only set their sights on the gorgeous aesthetic items you carefully chose.

3. When choosing colors, go for simplicity

Colors are a powerful tool when staging a home when it comes to setting a feel or mood. To achieve a minimalist look we recommend black and white since they’re perfect for directing attention to other elements in the room. Dark and bright colors will distract visitors from the details and style you’re trying to emphasize in the space.

At the same time, using only white and black isn’t necessary to give the home a touch of minimalism. The trick is to select a color palette that works well together and doesn’t erase the feeling of simplicity in the area. Colors certainly have their place in minimalist decor but they should be chosen and used wisely.

4. Use simple decorations and artwork

Although we’ve been accentuating the idea that minimalism is all about doing more with less, that doesn’t mean your wall should remain empty and dull. To keep the style consistent we recommend photos and paintings or drawings that are framed with a solid color. It’s also OK to leave a wall bare if adjacent walls feature a piece of artwork.

Simplicity also goes for decorations you’d place on a table or corner of the room. Instead of filling your space with accessories, stick to just a vase of flowers, a nice lamp, or potted plant. Make sure your focal item features bright, attractive colors to help draw attention and add a touch of energy to a room with subdued colors.

Whether you are selling your home or just needing a new home look, fluffing and de-cluttering can be done with minimal effort and cost. Give it a try!