Buying a house with avocado toast

Let's just be clear: It can't be done. Millennials cannot save enough to buy a house by foregoing avocado toast. (Unless, of course, a particular millennial is ordering avocado toast every day, three meals a day, which even another millennial is likely to acknowledge is a bit excessive, not to mention tedious.) But let's say you're a fairly normal millennial with a reasonable penchant for superfoods, and you order two avocado toasts per week – eight per month – at a whopping $22 each. If you gave up every healthy smashed avocado sprinkled with creamy Feta, it would save you a mere $176 per month. At today's paltry interest rates, that's likely to net you just $11,000 in five years, which isn't enough for a car, much less a house. Of course, if you gave up smashed avocado permanently, you could, perhaps, have enough for a traditional down payment on a house in 20 to 50 years, depending on average home prices in your area and the rate of return you're able to earn on your money. But that may take deferred gratification to an untenable level, even for Australian millionaires, like Tim Gurner. (Let's be clear, Bernard Salt, the Aussie columnist who started the whole avocado toast debate, was kidding. Really. Read his column.) But, wait. Maybe Tim Gurner was only using avocado toast as an example of discretionary spending – the way my generation used to refer to Starbucks lattes. In his television interview in Australia, he actually talked about trips to Europe and unrealistic lifestyle expectations that need to be tamped back to achieve long-term goals, such as buying a home. (I vaguely recall spoilsports saying the same to me and my friends some 30 years ago.) Millennials are likely to counter that their lifestyles are not at all excessive. Instead, their incomes are low, which some blame on graduating college in the midst of a recession. If you happen to be college educated, however, your prospects are better. The Pew Center found in a recent study Continue Reading

‘Can I use a Lifetime Isa to buy a house AND save for later life?’

WHEN the Government launched the Lifetime Isa last year, I opened one straight away in the hope of buying a home in the next few years. I'm 35 now and plan to keep paying in the maximum annual contribution of £4,000 to get the full £1,000-a-year Government top-up. Once I've used my savings and the Government bonus to buy my first home can I continue paying into my Lifetime Isa to build up a new bonus? I've read that the Lifetime Isa can also be used to save for later life, but if I've already used the Government bonus to buy a home can I still do this? Rachel Jones, Leeds Leah Milner replies: "Yes you can. It's brilliant that you are planning ahead and thinking about your long-term future as well as your short-term goal of getting on the property ladder. "Even though there is nothing on the Government website about this scenario, the Treasury has confirmed that you can continue saving into a Lifetime Isa after you've made use of the bonus to buy your first home. "But - you'll need to be willing to keep your savings locked away until you reach 60 - otherwise you will have to pay a hefty withdrawal penalty. "You've already put in your first £4,000, so let's say you save for another four years putting in the maximum £4,000 annual contribution every time. "In four year's time when you are 39 you'll have paid in a total of £20,000 and earned a Government bonus of £5,000 giving you £25,000 to put towards your deposit, plus any interest that has built up. "When you make use of this money make sure that you tell your Lifetime Isa provider and the solicitor handling your house purchase that you want to keep your Isa open after withdrawing the cash. "This is just in case your timetable slips as you won't be able to open a new Lifetime Isa after you reach 40.  But, don't worry you'll still be able to transfer it to a new provider if there's a better interest rate on offer. "So let's say that you are 40 by the time you are able to start Continue Reading

Here’s how to negotiate when buying a home. (Spoiler alert: It’s not like you see on HGTV.)

“Don’t try this at home” applies just as much to real estate reality shows as it does to daredevil stunts.Viewers might think they’re too savvy to take the shows seriously, but real estate and negotiation experts say that many do take their cues from HGTV’s “House Hunters,” Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing,” and other buy, sell and flip shows.In the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the homeownership rate rose to 64.2 percent from 63.7 percent a year earlier — that represents the first increase in homeownership since 2004. If you’re among first-time buyers looking to secure a home, rid yourself of ruinous negotiation strategies. Here are five do’s and dont’s and two show strategies that actually do translate to real life.1. Don’t limit your options to just a few houses. Do review your options methodically so you know the right house when you see it.“I can barely watch those shows,” says Brad Farris, 51, a principal with small business consulting firm Anchor Advisors and a longtime Chicago homeowner. He coaches entrepreneurs in negotiation and other tactics and applied his own advice when looking for his current Jefferson Park house a decade ago.Farris recommends scouting out neighborhoods and the kind of house you need well in advance. The better you understand your top priorities (Price? Condition of the house? Location? Size? School district? Commute?) the better equipped you are to mix and match those priorities when negotiating for any particular house, says Farris.“Get yourself in a flexible situation so you can move fast when the right house comes on the market,” he says. When he was looking for a house for his growing family, the father of five spent months going to open houses and tracking sale prices. When the right place came on the market, he identified it immediately, made a strong offer and got the house right Continue Reading

How to Build a House Cheap: 7 Sneaky Ways to Save on Home Construction

Want to know how to build a house cheap? Here's some advice on how to lower your expenses when building a home. Margaret Heidenry, provided by Published 1:30 pm, Monday, January 29, 2018 Photo: BrianAJackson/iStock Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: BrianAJackson/iStock How to Build a House Cheap: 7 Sneaky Ways to Save on Home Construction 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Want to know how to build a house cheap? That's understandable, given the median price of erecting a single-family home is $289,415. That's more than it costs to buy a house that's already built (currently $270,000). Yet if your heart is set on building your own home from the ground up, rest assured that there are ways to lower the expenses entailed. Here's some advice on how to build a house cheap. 1. Expand up rather than out Start saving by simplifying the design of your home. Face reality: Building a geodesic dome will clearly cost a lot more than constructing a traditional rectangular box. And the cost lowers further if you opt for a two-story home (or three) over a one-story house of equal square footage, since the foundation of the two-story home will be smaller—and the foundation's the pricey part. In fact, excavation and foundation work are by far the most significant cost when building a home, according to Morgan Franklin of Kentucky's LexHomeHub. So anything you can do to tighten the footprint translates into savings. Home & Real Estate Channel Now Playing: Now Playing What's Next for "Shahs of Sunset" Real Estate Mogul Mercedes Javid Cheddar TV T. Boone Pickens Is Selling His Ranch for $250 Million Fortune Estate-style living in Upper Kirby District at Mimosa Terrace Houston Chronicle Construction kicks off in new, oceanfront Continue Reading

Eight mistakes to avoid when buying your first home

Buying a home is overwhelming for most first-time buyers. It’s the biggest purchase most people will make in their lives, and the process is like no other financial transaction. Because of their unfamiliarity, first-time buyers often sabotage their home searches by making easily avoidable mistakes along the way. With the help of real estate agents, lenders and title insurers who have worked extensively with first-time buyers, we have collected a list of typical blunders. Avoid them and you will be well on your way to a smooth home-buying experience. Mandy Mills, a real estate agent with Compass, passed along some general advice, as well. “Find an agent who will educate you on the process before you get in the car, so that you understand the steps of the process,” she said. “A lot of people will put you in the car and start showing you things. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, that can make an overwhelming situation even more overwhelming.” (retrorocket/Getty Images/iStockphoto) Waiving the inspection “We never would recommend buying a house without doing a home inspection,” said Derrick Swaak, managing broker for the McLean office of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. “But what we do see . . . is doing a pre-home inspection. With the seller’s [approval], going in and inspecting the house, making sure there’s nothing alarming. So you’ve done the home inspection, then you make the offer and you can exclude the home inspection contingency because you’ve already had a professional go through the property. That is done all the time, particularly in a really hot market.” (istockphoto) Failing to get preapproved for a mortgage “Going through a preapproval process with a reputable lender should be done very early in the process,” said Steve Wydler of Wydler Brothers Real Estate. “It can be a huge waste of your time looking at homes Continue Reading

Exploding Trees? 5 Shockers That Can Make a House Catch Fire

Is there any way to fireproof a house? Building experts say people can do plenty to mitigate the risks. Here's a rundown of what to watch out for. Judy Dutton, provided by Published 5:00 pm, Thursday, December 14, 2017 Photo: Skipro101/iStock Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: Skipro101/iStock Exploding Trees? 5 Shockers That Can Make a House Catch Fire 1 / 1 Back to Gallery The California wildfires are raging on—by last count, wiping out more than 1,000 buildings across 260,000 acres. And even now, these blazes are threatening 25,000 more homes. So the burning question in our minds is: Is there any way to fireproof a house? That might sound like a tall order, but building experts say that people can do plenty to put a damper on the risks from wildfire—through renovations, landscaping, and more. In fact, many homeowners might be missing out or making mistakes that could be putting their property and possessions in greater danger than they realize. Here's a rundown of what to watch out for. 1. Exploding trees If you have any eucalyptus trees on your property, watch out! "Many Southern California homes are adjacent to eucalyptus trees, which tend to explode during fire season," Los Angeles real estate developer Tyler Drew tells®. Eucalyptus oil is highly flammable, so when brush fires bake these trees from underneath, they can burst, raining embers onto everything in the area. Home & Real Estate Channel Now Playing: Now Playing A British Doctor Is Selling Land on Mars for 10 Acres Per Penny Brandpoint Spring training real estate Sun-Sentinel Fredrik Eklund Felt ‘Helpless’ After Devastating Miscarriages: ‘I Was a Mess’ People Continue Reading

How to save for a house while renting

Sticking to a budget can help you save for a down payment to get you and your family into that new home. (THINKSTOCK) Saving for a down payment on a new home means cutting expenses. (THINKSTOCK) If you’re renting but want to someday buy a home, you know that saving up a down payment is an important first step. Unfortunately, everyday life and its many expenses can make it hard to know how to save for a house — especially when you’re paying rent every month. The trick is to balance paying rent and saving money at the same time. Approximately 36 percent of U.S. households lived in rentals in 2015, according to The State of the Nation’s Housing 2016, a report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. The same report showed that 21.3 million renters spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing in 2014. Here are 20 ways to save for a house: 1. Use a budget app These days, there are plenty of free or low-cost budgeting apps that can help you toward your goal of buying a home. Take advantage of them, said Than Merrill, real estate expert, CEO and founder of FortuneBuilders. “There are a number of apps — like Dollarbird, Fudget and LearnVest — that crawl through your banking accounts to track your spending for you,” Merrill said. “Once you know where you are spending, set a maximum budget for each category.” Then, stick to it. And don’t forget to budget in your newest goal: buying a house. 2. Find a gym-free workout The average cost of a gym membership is $58 a month, according to Statistic Brain, which provides market statistics and research. The group also found that 67 percent of gym membership holders never use them. That’s a lot of money down the drain — money that could go toward a down payment. Better to save money and get some fresh air, Merrill said. “Go for a run, take your yoga mat to the park, or attempt a hike at a local trail. If Continue Reading

Buying a house? Pick a team of pros before taking the plunge

Buying a home can be nerve-wracking, but not if you put the proper team in place before you begin the process. And that process requires a team of four pros: a real estate agent, attorney, lender, and home inspector. The biggest pitfall a homebuyer can make is making a decision too quickly and going with the first person referred to you, or someone that comes up in an internet search. Here are my four tips that will help you make the right decision for you: 1. Say yes to using a professional real estate agent A "buyer's agent" is our right-hand-man, your home-buying champ when you're looking for a house. Remember, you don't pay them — the seller does! Some of the many great benefits of a Buyer's Agent include: Ensuring you have as many property options to pick from as possible Helping you negotiate the purchase price Making sure you know the value of any particular house by supported data of recently sold comparable homes. 2. Be the judge of your lawyer Attorneys scrutinize, probe, and drill ... and you should do the same! Make sure your attorney specializes in real estate law and has years of experience helping first-time homebuyers. Sure, the family attorney knows about real estate, but if real estate is not what they specialize in, you risk oversights that can cause delays. You also need them to be available to answer specific questions promptly. Once a mortgage is secured, it's a race against time. There's a commitment due date in the contract, and if things aren't done on time, you could end up losing your dream home. 3. Find the money Not all mortgage companies are created equally, so shop around! Get different rates and learn about programs that could meet your specific needs. Also, make sure to ask for ALL of the loan options you qualify for, not just the option they recommend. You may be wondering at this point ... what's the difference between a bank, a broker and a direct lender? Think Continue Reading

6 Smart Reasons Why You Should Buy a Used Car

Go to a local car dealership, enter the showroom, open the door to one of the vehicles on display, and breathe deeply. Ahhhh, new car smell. Intoxicating, isn’t it? Alluring to the point that you’ll spend, on average, about $13,500 in order to obtain it. Wait. What? That’s right. According to Kelley Blue Book, in 2015, Americans spent, on average, more than $33,500 on new vehicles. Meanwhile, J.D. Power reported that in the 2015, the average used vehicle cost just over $20,000. That new-car smell sure is an expensive air freshener. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. Of course, there are other reasons to buy a new car. At the same time, it makes plenty of sense to buy a used car, and not something vintage like that cool Volkswagen Thing pictured above. We’re talking about lightly used vehicles, the type J.D. Power describes when it claims that in 2015 the average used vehicle was 4.3 years old and had 51,554 miles on the odometer. First up on our list of the 6 best reasons to buy a used car is the most obvious one: saving money. 1.) Save Money You will save thousands of dollars by purchasing a used car. In fact, based on the data cited above, you’ll spend $13,500 less by choosing the average used car instead of the average new car. Why is this? New cars depreciate, and fast. GET MORE TIPS IN OUR COMPLETE CAR BUYING GUIDE HERE. Sign the paperwork for a brand-new car, drive it off the lot, take a ride around town, and then return the car to the dealership. It isn’t a new car anymore. It is a used car. And because it is a used car, it is worth substantially less than you paid for it just an hour prior. After three years, Consumer Reports says your new car will be worth just 54 percent of what you paid for it, on average. Ouch. This is not true of all vehicles. For example, as this article is written, used Toyota FJ Cruisers are worth a far greater percentage of their original value than the typical Continue Reading

Taking out a loan for a new car requires the same homework as purchasing a house

If you were going to buy a house, financing would be a major issue. You'd go over your budget to get an idea of what you could afford, do research on interest rates and shop around for a lender. But when it's time to finance a car, most consumers don't devote nearly as much effort. Sure, we research the car itself. We look at miles per gallon, safety ratings and interior space. We take it for a test drive. And then when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, we do it, sometimes without a thought to whether the interest rate is the best we can get. That's a problem because it's probably not. Interest rates are low right now - averaging in the 5% range for loans on both new and used cars - and if you're in the market, you need to take advantage. Here's how: YOUR CREDIT SCORE'S VALUE It isn't easy to determine the value of your credit score because you can't always rely on advertised rates, said Mukesh Chatter, CEO of, a site that lets banks and credit unions bid on your car loan. "Those rates are for superprime [scores], 740 and above, and about 85% of the population doesn't fall in that category," he said. will give you a good idea of the average interest rate a credit score in your range will get you. Right now, for instance, if you have a strong score of 720 or more, your rate should be around 4.95%, while a score between 660 and 689 will get you a rate of 8.35%. For guidance, type some details into and allow lenders to bid on you. You don't have to include any personal info, and you're under no obligation to accept a loan, so it's like window shopping. You put in your zip code, the car year and make, the purchase price, loan amount and your credit score range, and you'll get several responses. As long as you put in the correct credit score, the results should be fairly accurate. (If you don't know your score, you can get it for free from or GET PREAPPROVED Just like with Continue Reading