38 things you need to do to sell your home fast

Like all good things, a delicate balance of time, money, and effort has to be invested in selling your home to get the result you desire. However, one thing is for sure in today’s market – time is money, and the faster you can sell your home, the better since you’ll incur less holding costs, less depreciation and damage risks, and you get to take advantage of better deals before rates go up.

It’s difficult to distill all the things that needs to be done in order to make a good and fast sale in a few simple tips. However, what a homeowner has to do is to cover these 3 basic rules to which everything else follows.
Sell it at the right price – what you want is a number that nets you the most money, but won’t drive away buyers at the same time. One significant thing that can affect improve this number would be to increase your home’s curb appeal.
Sell it at the right time – pick the right quarter to sell, each has its own pros and cons:
Spring – Buyers are fueled with new cash, but face holiday bills. Some might find weather to be an issue.
Summer – Peak buying season according to stats, but also means there’s a lot of competition.
Fall – Prices drop after the summer rush, but there’s fewer competitors.
Winter – Buyers have money from bonuses and tax deductions, but can be a slow time to close a deal.
Get the right person to sell it for you – perhaps the most critical rule of all: get a specialist to do the job! Property selling is a complicated game, and chances are, a real estate agent will do a better job than you. However, the trick here is to get a reputable agent who can do the job for you at a price you will be happy with.  6 Criteria for finding the right agent - Experience in selling  your type of property - Regulated member of an ethics board - Aggressive and hungry to get your home sold - Good recommendations or reviews - Fees and costs - Ability to gain visibility for your property.

The Successful Seller's Mindset - Be Objective.  Look at your home from a buyer's point of view.  Balance the 3 big goals:  net the most money when you sell - Sell in the shortest timeframe possible - Sell with the least risk of inconvenience.

Preparing Your Home to Sell - Pick the Right Improvements.  Clean & declutter - Create a clean slate - Stage It - Leave at least 30% of closet space free - Fix the root problem of pet odors and leaks - Invest in Smart Home Technology - 34% of buyers avoid homes needing renovations - 84% of buyers say heating and cooling costs are important features - Attic Insulation provides a 116.9% ROI.
To find out what makes a good real estate agent, as well as other in-depth tips on how to sell your home as soon as possible, check out the infographic by Offer Climb Houston and Offer Climb Phoenix called “How To Sell Your Home Fast”.

8 Hidden Costs When You Buy a Home

1. Home Inspection

A home inspection helps protect you from purchasing a home that could be a lemon. So you don’t want to forgo it. TipYour inspector isn’t required to be an expert in everything. If you suspect termites, asbestos, and foundational issues, for instance, you’ll need to hire a specialist.Inspectors will look for signs of structural issues, mold, and leaks; assess the condition of the roof, gutters, water heater, heating and cooling system; and more. Inspections cost between $300 and $500, and whether or not you end up purchasing the property, you still need to pay this fee. 

Related: 7 Pros Who May Need to Inspect Your Home and Why

Best Pro Secrets for Buying and Selling

  1. 5 Ways You Didn't Know You Could Save for a Down Payment
  2. Is It OK to Use the Bathroom When You're Touring a House? (and 4 Other Questions You're Afraid to Ask)
  3. Not Sure How to Price Your Home? Avoid Mistakes With These Tips
  4. Room-by-Room Guide for the Perfectly Staged Home

2. Appraisal Fee

This appraisal report goes to your lender to assure it that the property is worth what you’re paying for it. This report worked in our favor a couple of years ago when our home came back appraised for $10,000 less than our bid; the sellers had to reduce their asking price in order to move forward. TipIf you’re selling, review the appraisal thoroughly for any oddball numbers or descriptions that could affect the value of your home.An appraisal can take about 2 hours and costs between $200 and $425.

3. Application Fees

Before ever approving you for a loan, the lender is going to run your credit report and charge you an application fee, often lumping the credit report fee in with the application fee. This can run $75 to $300. Be sure to ask for a breakdown of the application fees to understand all costs.

4. Title Services

These fees cover a title search of the public records for the property you’re buying, notary fees for the person witnessing your signature on documents, government filing fees, and more. These can cost between $150 and $400, and it’s important to get a line item for each cost.

5. Lender’s Origination Fees

Your lender will charge you this upfront free for making the mortgage loan. This includes processing the loan application, underwriting the loan (researching whether to approve you), and funding the loan. These fees are quoted as a percentage of the total loan you’re taking out and generally range between 0.5 to 1.5%.

6. Survey Costs

This report ($150 to $400) confirms the property’s boundaries, outlining its major features and dimensions.

7. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

When you put down less than 20% on your new home, the lender requires that you purchase TipYour lender must cancel PMI once you reach 78% of your loan-to-value ratio or you have 22% equity. But you can petition to cancel early when your LTV hits 80%.Read More InCancel Your Private Mortgage Insurance PMI,  which is a policy that protects the lender from losing money if you end up in foreclosure. So PMI is a policy that you have to buy to protect the lender from you. PMI rates can vary from 0.3% to 1.5% of your original loan amount annually.

8. Tax Service Fee

This is the cost (about $50) to ensure that all property tax payments are up to date and that the payments you make are appropriately credited to the right home.


7 Tips for Staging Your Home

1.  Start with a Clean Slate

Before you can worry about where to place furniture and which wall hanging should go where, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Deep clean and deodorize carpets and window coverings.

2.  Stow Away Your Clutter

It’s harder for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they’re looking at your family photos, collectibles, and knickknacks. Pack up all your personal decorations. However, don’t make spaces like mantles and coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of Staged Homes in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.

3.  Scale Back on Your Furniture

When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller, which will make buyers think your home is less valuable than it is. Make sure buyers appreciate the size of each room by removing one or two pieces of furniture. If you have an eat-in dining area, using a small table and chair set makes the area seem bigger.

4.  Rethink Your Furniture Placement

Highlight the flow of your rooms by arranging the furniture to guide buyers from one room to another. In each room, create a focal point on the farthest wall from the doorway and arrange the other pieces of furniture in a triangle around the focal point, advises Schwarz. In the bedroom, the bed should be the focal point. In the living room, it may be the fireplace, and your couch and sofa can form the triangle in front of it.

5.  Add Color to Brighten Your Rooms

Brush on a fresh coat of warm, neutral-color paint in each room. Ask your real estate agent for help choosing the right shade. Then accessorize. Adding a vibrant afghan, throw, or accent pillows for the couch will jazz up a muted living room, as will a healthy plant or a bright vase on your mantle. High-wattage bulbs in your light fixtures will also brighten up rooms and basements.

6.  Set the Scene

Lay logs in the fireplace, and set your dining room table with dishes and a centerpiece of fresh fruit or flowers. Create other vignettes throughout the home — such as a chess game in progress — to help buyers envision living there. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.

Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, towels, and fancy guest soaps (after you put all your personal toiletry items are out of sight). Judiciously add subtle potpourri, scented candles, or boil water with a bit of vanilla mixed in. If you have pets, clean bedding frequently and spray an odor remover before each showing.

7.  Make the Entrance Grand

Mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before showings to make your lawn sparkle. If flowers or plants don’t surround your home’s entrance, add a pot of bright flowers. Top it all off by buying a new doormat and adding a seasonal wreath to your front door.


Attention Sellers: Remodeling Projects to Increase Your Sales Price – Part 1

The results are in! NAR surveyed thousands of consumers, real estate agents, and industry professionals on interior and exterior home remodeling projects. The projects listed below are the best interior remodeling projects that can get you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes time to list on the market.

Interior Remodeling Projects

If you are looking to remodel your home with the intent of selling at a higher price, you should consider these projects for their overall cost to the owner and their potential boost in selling price. We’ve ranked these interior projects based on the most value and cost recovery a homeowner can receive based on NAR’s 2015 Remodeling Impact Report.

The following five projects received the best overall value for sellers:

(1) Refinishing a home’s hardwood floors received the highest money-back value. Refinishing the floor can boost the home’s beauty and aesthetics and upgrade worn-out features. Remodelers from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) estimate that refinishing hardwood floors cost $2,500. NAR REALTORS® estimate that the increased value for sellers is also $2,500 and thus a homeowner can recovery 100 percent of the costs.

(2) Completing an insulation upgrade is the second most cost effective project. NARI Remodelers estimate that upgrading a home’s insulation will cost $2,100. NAR REALTORS® estimate that sellers can increase the value of their home by $2,000 for an insulation upgrade, and thus recover 95 percent of their costs.

(3) If your home does not currently have wood floors to refinish, adding new wood flooring can recover 91 percent of costs at the time of sale. NARI Remodelers estimate the cost of new wood flooring to be $5,500. NAR REALTORS® estimate that the increased value for sellers is $5,000.

(4) Replacing the HVAC system can improve energy efficiency and update worn-out features in the home. NARI Remodelers estimate that the cost of replacing an HVAC system is $7,000. NAR REALTORS® estimate that the increased value for sellers is $5,000. The cost recovery is 71 percent.

(5) Finally, converting a basement into a living area improves livability for potential new buyers. NARI Remodelers estimate that a basement overhaul will cost $36,000. NAR REALTORS® estimate that the increased value for sellers is $25,000. The cost recovery for a new living room in the basement area is 69 percent.


The most expensive remodeling projects include:

  • Completing a new master suite at a cost estimate of $112,500 (estimated cost recovery at 53 percent),
  • Converting an attic into a living area at $65,000 (estimated cost recovery at 61 percent),
  • Complete kitchen renovation at $60,000 (estimated cost recovery at 67 percent), and
  • Adding a new bathroom at $50,000 (estimated cost recovery at 52 percent).

The least expensive remodeling projects include:

  • Upgrading insulation at a cost estimate of $2,100 (estimated cost recovery at 95 percent),
  • Refinishing hardwood floors at $2,500 (estimated cost recovery at 100 percent), and
  • Renovating a closet at $3,500 (estimated cost recovery at 57 percent).

For a complete list of home remodeling projects, the level of homeowner satisfaction, cost estimates and seller value, read more in the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report.

*Disclaimer: The report provides a cost recovery estimate for representative remodeling projects. The actual cost of each remodeling projects and cost recovery are influenced by many factors including project design, quality of materials, location, age and condition of the home and homeowner preferences.

What Is a Good Credit Score for Buying a House?

"Good credit" scores fall into a range.

FICO is a credit-scoring system established by the Fair Isaac Corp. FICO scores are calculated to determine the probability of credit users paying their bills. FICO scores have become the lending industry’s benchmark for credit-granting decisions. However, not all lenders use FICO scores to determine creditworthiness. Some lenders use scores from other agencies such as Scorex. Many lenders look to the three major credit-reporting bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- in making their lending decisions.


Credit Guidelines

Credit scores range from about 300 to 850. According to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which purchase mortgages from banks and resell them to investors, a FICO score above 620 is considered good. However, says Fair Isaac, "A 620 score doesn't mean you're going to qualify for the best rate. It means you're going to qualify for a standardized rate, or a prime rate. 'Prime' is a broad category, so lenders will have different loan products that classify as 'prime' rates.' " The interest rate lenders charge their most creditworthy customers is described as the prime rate. The prime rate is based on the fed funds target rate set by the Federal Reserve.

Credit Reports

Most mortgage applicants have things to clear up financially before being able to achieve a good credit score. Consumers should regularly review their credit reports to make sure there are no errors on them. Any adverse-credit indications, accounts showing payments over 30 days late, collections, judgments, bankruptcies or foreclosures will lower a credit score. It is best to pay off old accounts, judgments and collections before applying for a mortgage. And once these accounts are paid off, wait until they are being reported on your credit reports as “satisfied” or “paid.”


A credit score below 620 is considered subprime. The subprime lending category is for borrowers whom the lender determines to be risky loan candidates. Scores that fall short of 620 may bring about lender investigation. Applicants will be required to provide additional documentation to prove their creditworthiness. Subprime lenders generally request bank statements and W-2s from applicants. Borrowers with credit scores under 620 will generally pay higher interest rates.

Good Score

According to a 2005 survey by GMAC Mortgage, 62 percent of consumers were unaware that a score of 620 or better them in line for the best mortgage rate, CNN says. Knowing the range for prime lending can help a consumer aim for a particular credit score. The Treasury Department states, "Lenders differ with respect to mortgage underwriting guidelines, but the typical 'A' credit or prime borrower – that is, a borrower whose loan would be purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac under their guidelines – has a FICO score that exceeds 650, has no late mortgage payments and no more than one 30-day late payment on consumer credit."

Excellent Credit

The nonprofit Myvesta Foundation provides free consumer debt help and assistance in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland. In a 2001 Bloomberg BusinessWeek story on credit, Myvesta said a score of 650 or higher was considered excellent by most mortgage lenders. Borrowers with excellent credit qualify for the lowest rates, loan terms and financing incentives. No-documentation loans (loans primarily based on a credit score) can be offered to borrowers with credit scores of 700 or higher.

Mortgage Loan Qualification

A credit score is only part of the mortgage loan qualification process. Other factors such as employment history, income and debt-to-income ratio impact lending decisions. Ultimately, it is up to a lender to decide whether to extend credit to a mortgage loan applicant.

The 10 Best Towns In Missouri To Raise A Family

Here Are The 10 Best Towns In Missouri To Raise A Family

Missouri is overall a great place to raise a family with its charming small towns and cultured larger cities. When Niche.com released their “best of rankings” in 2015, the following towns made the top 10 for being the best places in Missouri to raise a family. The towns were ranked based on factors like crime rates, high school graduation percentage, access to amenities and recreation, and the cost of living and childcare. A high ranking in this area would indicate that the town would tend to attract young families with good schools and a safe community.

Note: For purposes of this article, “towns” excludes suburbs and cities with over 100,000 residents.

1. Eureka

Eureka is a large town in St. Louis County with 10,375 residents. Its low unemployment rate, high education levels and high income levels make it particularly attractive to families. The city also plays host to the amusement park Six Flags St. Louis.

2. Willard

Willard is a midsize town in Greene County with 5,395 residents. With a reasonable cost of living, and high levels of support for its school activities, the overall atmosphere of the town is warm and inviting. The unemployment rate at 5.3% is lower than the national average. 

With two Willard High School alums having participated in the Olympics, the town’s main east-west road, U.S. 160, is known as Olympian Boulevard. The town has also shown tremendous growth in recent years, which is a good sign of things to come.

3. Waynesville

Located in Pulaski County in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks, Waynesville is a mid-sized town with 5,147 residents. The town boasts a moderate cost of living, high education levels and high income levels. 

The town is also located along historic Route 66, with major attractions including the Old Stagecoach Stop, the oldest standing structure in the county, and the Courthouse Museum. A nice town with great people and beautiful scenery, Waynesville’s constant growth over the years, points to a very bright future.

4. Kearney

Kearney is famous for being the birthplace of Jesse James. It is a midsize town with 8,845 residents located in Clay County. It has a moderate cost of living and a low unemployment rate at 3.8%. High education levels and income levels, along with low crime rates make Kearney a great place for families.

5. Marshfield

Located in Webster County, Marshfield is a midsized town with 6,789 residents. The town’s cost of living is far below average with low rent costs, and the unemployment level is respectable. A local attraction that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the Hosmer Dairy Farm Historic District, also known as Walnut Springs Farm. 

The town also boasts the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the state of Missouri, and has hosted presidential visits. In fact, when the National First Families Library and Museum was dedicated on the square in 2006, the city made national news for having the largest gathering of Presidential relatives in the history of the U.S.

6. St. Charles

The county seat of St. Charles County, the small city of St. Charles has much to offer families. Its 66,900 residents appreciate a moderate cost of living, and a decent unemployment rate. A graduation rate of 90.9% is well above the national average. 

It is a beautiful town with lots of things to do including access to the Katy Trail, and the St. Charles Historic Main Street shopping and restaurant district. With healthy new home construction, and tremendous commercial and population growth in recent years, St. Charles’ future looks very bright.

7. Washington

A picturesque town with 13,982 residents, Washington is located on the Missouri River in Franklin County. Low rent costs and very low unemployment levels along with high school graduation of 91% makes the town quite appealing for families. Missouri Meerschaum, a producer of corncob pipes and located on the riverfront gives Washington the title of “corncob pipe capital of the world.”

8. Farmington

A large town in St. Francois County, Farmington has 17,213 residents. A low cost of living and low unemployment rates, as well as a high school graduation rate of 92% makes the town great for families. With a rich heritage, residential and economic growth, Farmington beautifully represents the best of Missouri.

9. Pleasant Hill

Pleasant Hill is a flourishing mid-sized town in northern Cass County with 8,173 residents. With an impressive high school graduation rate of 95%, a reasonable cost of living, and low unemployment makes it great for families. With a beautiful historic downtown and lots of activities, along with great schools and businesses, their Chamber of Commerce predicts Pleasant Hill has a “Proud Past. Exciting Future.”

10. Bonne Terre

An extremely low cost of living gives the mid-sized town of Bonne Terre appeal for young families just starting out. Its 7,025 residents are also able to enjoy the historic town’s attractions, The Bonne Terre Mine, and The Space Museum. Bonne Terre was originally a French settlement named “La Terre Bonne,” which means “Good Earth,” in reference to the area having the richest lead ore mineral wealth in the world at the time. 

Niche lists the following five towns #11-#15: Odessa, Savannah, Warrensburg, Excelsior Springs, and Rolla.

4 Easy-to-Follow Tips For Buying A Home This Spring

Spring time is known to be the busiest time of year in the real estate industry. As the temperature rises not only do we see blossoming flowers and the signs of life returning to nature, we also see a dramatic increase in the number of homes hitting the market, as well as a larger number of potential home buyers looking to find their perfect match. Tips for selling a home is often covered, but if you’re a buyer, there are a few things you may want to do for success this spring.

1. Hire a Real Estate Professional to Be Your Tour Guide, and Choose Carefully!

It has never been more important to hire a real estate agent than in today’s market. It is crucial that you hire someone who is experienced in many types of transactions. You deserve to have a professional representing your best interests throughout the entire buying process. A buyer’s agent will help you with your home search, required contractual paperwork, negotiations, inspections, and any other concerns that may come up. A good tour guide understands market trends and how those trends will affect your personal real estate needs. Remember, it will cost you nothing to hire a buyer’s agent; the seller of your new home will pay their commission, so you have nothing to lose.

2. Understand Your Financial Profile and Get Pre-Approved For a Home Mortgage

If you’re looking to buy a house you’ve probably prepared a budget in order to determine how much you are comfortable spending on a new place. And while that is a good place to start, the reality is that the world of home financing has changed dramatically in recent years. Obtaining a home mortgage is harder today than it has been a very long time, which means you may not be qualified to borrow as much money as you think. Before you go out and tour any homes, you should meet with amortgage specialist to determine an accurate budget and then follow the steps necessary to gain pre-approval for a loan. If you are pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer, you will not be considered a “wannabe” buyer. The result is that the home seller is much more likely to entertain your bid.

3. Prioritize Your Needs and Wants

Home buyers’ needs vary for many reasons. Families with children want to live near good school systems and they tend to want bigger yards and outdoor play areas. People who are devoted to their careers will pay more attention to the ease of their commute. Single people tend to seek out places that offer a certain level of entertainment and proximity to other unmarried residents. Likewise, retirees are concerned about the vicinity of local hospitals and perhaps, recreational activities like golf. As a home buyer you should have a solid understanding of your own needs. Make a checklist and prioritize the items on that list; what do you need vs. what do you want? Understand that your list will shift and change based on your budget constraints and market trends. And remember that when you buy a house, you are also buying the neighborhood.

4. Sellers Aren’t the Only Ones Who Face Competition

Typically, when people think about competition in the real estate industry, they envision a group of home owners competing to sell their houses. But sellers are not the only ones who experience competition. As a buyer you need to be prepared to compete for your dream house. Bidding wars are on the rise so you need to always lead with your best foot forward. The days of under bidding on a house are over. If you decide to make an offer, make it a good one! Work with your agent to think of unique ways to propel yourself above other buyers. Perhaps you could offer the sellers an extra day to move out, or if needed, you could rent the house back to the sellers until they are ready to leave. There are many ways create additional incentives with your offer.

How to Buy a Home for the Family You Don’t Have Yet

Whether it’s your first time buying a home or you’re looking to trade up, you’ve almost certainly got a long (and probably quixotic) wish list of the features you want. You’ve heard the advice that you should plan now for the life you’ll be leading in a few years, right?

So maybe it’s time to think about choosing a home for a family you don’t have … yet.

Even if kids are still a distant, exhausting glimmer in your eye, it makes lots of sense to search out a home you won’t have to immediately sell whenever you do start a family. And even if you never plan on being graced by the onslaught of soiled Luvs and insanity-inducing repeats of “Frozen” (or whatever “Frozen” equivilent exists a few years from now), it pays to be aware of what parents are looking for—because one day, you’ll probably sell whatever house you buy. And more likely than not, parents will be the buyers.

“Whether you choose a smaller home in an urban neighborhood to be close to attractions, or you opt for a bigger family home in the suburbs, the layout needs to work for a majority of potential buyers at resale time,” says Lauren Sheehan, a Realtor® inPortland, OR.

Either way, when you don’t have young kids running around (or the parental angst that comes with the deal), you might not recognize potential safety and logistical issues. So here’s a list of considerations to get you started.

  • Will you be comfortable with having kids’ bedrooms on different levels, which is common in older homes?
  • How close do you want the master bedroom to be to the kids’ bedroom(s)?
  • How close are secondary bedrooms to bathrooms?
  • Is the backyard fenced in?
  • Will you have a direct line of sight from the kitchen or family room to the backyard to keep an eye on children?
  • Do you want an eat-in kitchen or a separate dining room for big family dinners?
  • Are there adequate staircase railings?
  • What are the ratings of nearby schools?
  • What’s the crime rate of your target neighborhoods?

You can’t rely solely on online searches to tell the whole story about a house or an area, says Kevin Curtis, a Realtor in Minneapolis, MN.

“It’s difficult to gauge these items until you physically walk through properties and drive around the neighborhoods,” Curtis says. “Look for things like how close the home is to busy streets and if there’s space for kids to play.”

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Of course, no house is perfect (starter homes, in particular). Curtis recommends looking for properties you can expand or remodel to better suit your needs as time and money allow.

“Be mindful of whether or not there’s room to expand by finishing a basement, remodeling an attic, or doing an addition,” Curtis says, adding that your Realtor can recommend contractors who can provide you with estimates when and if you need to expand.

In the end, Curtis says, classic real estate wisdom holds true, whether or not you’re a future parent: “Choosing a home is an emotional decision, but it’s also a major investment; don’t discount its resale value down the road.”

Can You Afford an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage?

Points, down payment, annual percentage rate. Whether you have just figured out how much home you can afford or are trying to calculate whether a mortgage refinance makes sense for you, it’s important to understand the terms and what they mean for your mortgage options. Whichever mortgage you decide on has an impact on how much you will pay each month, how much you will pay overall, and how you need to handle your regular personal income and spending.

Fixed vs. adjustable rate

A variable- or adjustable-rate mortgage is a loan where the interest rate is subject to change according to market fluctuations and terms, whereas a fixed-rate mortgage offers flat payments throughout the term of the loan. It may be easier to qualify for an ARM because payments in the early years are more affordable. They can be more complicated as they are available in a variety of terms, but they enable buyers to account for future increases in income or improved economic environments. (You should know, for example, how long the initial rate lasts, how often the mortgage adjusts, and what the maximum adjustment is in your payment.) Here’s a quick guide to the differences between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages.

When it’s right for you

Variable-rate mortgages might be right for you if you can handle more risk and know you will likely have more money once the lower-rate term of the schedule ends. This type of mortgage may also be better for people who anticipate declining interest rates, plan to live in their current space for a limited time, or predict they can pay off the mortgage before a higher interest rate kicks in.

How to prepare

Before you get any kind of loan product, the first thing you should do is check your credit scores, since a difference of just a few points can mean shelling out thousands more in interest charges over the life of your loan. You can check your credit scores for free once a month on Credit.com, and you can pull your free annual credit reports on AnnualCreditReport.com from each of the major credit-reporting agencies.

Some advisers might say that it will be harder to plan when your monthly payments fluctuate. Interest rates are variable and generally increase over time, meaning your payments will likely get higher. You can use the money you save from your time with lower interest payments earlier in the mortgage to put toward the months of higher payments or hope that your income will rise as your rate does. Keep in mind that if property values rise, so will property taxes, so your taxes could increase your payment as well.

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It’s important to study the (sometimes complex) terms of your loan and prepare accordingly. Don’t let yourself suffer payment shock or struggle to make payments, because you can study and understand market fluctuations to help you plan and set aside funds accordingly.

Once you know which mortgage type fits your personal situation, you can determine how much your monthly payments will be. Choosing the right option and budgeting accordingly can help ensure you make your repayment a priority while balancing your spending and saving needs and wants.


This article was written by AJ Smith and originally published on Credit.com.


How to Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time—Without Losing Your Mind

Ah, to be a first-time home buyer again: How easy it was to buy a home when you weren’t carrying another mortgage on your back!

If you’re looking to graduate from first-timer to repeat buyer, you know things are about to get much trickier. Unless you’re a bona fide house collector, you’ll have to sell your home in order to buy anew—adding a whole separate layer of anxiety to what you already know is a stressful home-buying process.

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In an ideal world, you’d buy a new home, move, and then, and when all the dust settles, deal with the turmoil of selling. But for most people, that’s totally unrealistic. Not only does it cost significantly more, since you’ll be paying two mortgages, but sellers might be quick to judge if you’re holding on to your current home.

Drew Snyder, a Realtor® with Snyder Sutton Real Estate inTopanga, CA, says one of his clients had difficulty getting sellers to “take them seriously unless the house was on the market or in escrow. As soon as we put it on [the market], they were considered as serious buyers.”

You can do this! If selling and buying simultaneously is the only way to go, here’s what you need to know to make sure both processes go as smoothly as possible.

Know the market first

Before you start seriously searching for a new home—or put your current home on the market—make sure you have a solid understanding of the housing market in your area (and the area where you’re planning to buy). Is the market weighted toward buyers or sellers?

Only then will you be able to fully strategize. As is so often the case, the best plan of action may differ depending on exactly who has the power.

That doesn’t mean to find one house you like and call it a day: Find multiple suitable options. That way, you’re less likely to find yourself in trouble if your purchase falls through—your newly sold home won’t leave you stranded.

Similarly, make sure to hire an appraiser and price your old home fairly. Now is decidedly not the time for delusions of grandeur: Two extra months on the market because you couldn’t humble yourself to lower the price means two months you’ll be paying double mortgages. Two very long months…

Plan your schedule carefully…

Should you buy first, then sell—or vice versa? Both have their risks and rewards. Selling first makes getting a mortgage easier, but it also means you’ll need to find a temporary place to live. Buying first means moving will be easier, but it also skews your debt-to-income ratio, making it harder to qualify for a new mortgage—not to mention the difficulty of juggling two monthly house payments.

“It’s walking a tightrope,” says Gary DiMauro, a Realtor in New York’s Hudson Valley. And he’s not just talking about scheduling: Your finances will be on the highwire, too. When determining whether you should sell or buy first, think beyond “How can I make the move as easy as possible?” Instead ask: “Can I handle two mortgages? What if my home sells for less than its listing?”

Whichever option you choose, make sure you’re prepared to accept the consequences: having to store your stuff and rent temporarily, or undergoing the financial burdens of dual mortgages.

… but don’t rely on timing

When buying and selling a home simultaneously, “there are so many external circumstances,” says DiMauro. “I’ve yet to see it really work smoothly and efficiently.”

Remember: You’re not the only party in this equation. For every seller there’s a buyer, for every buyer a seller. While things might appear to be working smoothly when viewing your master plan from above, that doesn’t take into account the variabilities of other people. Closings are rife with delays. Your buyers might have difficulty securing their mortgage; your home inspector may bring up issues that need to be fixed before you can move in.

“You’re relying on the seller of the place that you’re buying to be ready to move in concert with the buyer of your house,” DiMauro says.

So even if you’ve planned to sell your home first and are prepared to rent while buying, know that even the best-laid plans go awry—and you might end up juggling both mortgages. Preparing yourself for this (however remote) possibility ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition.

Know your financial solutions

For those who choose to sell first, the process is relatively straightforward other than the additional cost of a rental between homes. However, there is the option of a rent-back agreement, where you negotiate with the lenders and buyers to be able to remain in the property for a maximum of 60 to 90 days—often in exchange for a lower selling price or rent paid to the buyers. This can relieve some of the pressure of finding a new home, giving you additional time to house hunt.

But if you’re buying first, talk to your Realtor about ways to decrease your financial burden and risk. Here are the two most popular options for buyers:

Contract contingency: Buyers can request that their new home purchase be dependent on the successful sale of their old home. If you’re looking in a competitive market, this may not be a good option; however, if the seller of your intended home has had difficulty attracting interest, this may be a good deal for all parties involved—assuming you can convince them that your home will sell quickly.

Bridge loans: Bridge financing allows you to own two homes simultaneously if you don’t have deep pockets for a second down payment. This option is especially attractive if you’d planned to sell your home first and use the proceeds to buy the second. It functions as a short-term loan, intended to be repaid upon the sale of your original house.

Don’t let fear rush you

If your home has sold but you haven’t found a new place to live, don’t let anxiety push you toward a bad decision. DiMauro usually recommends that his clients pre-emptively plan on a short-term rental “so they don’t feel stressed or pushed into something that they would not normally be interested in,” he says. “They shouldn’t make a purchase because they felt like they were pressured from the time constraints.”

Found the perfect home right on schedule? That’s great. But don’t feel like you have to compromise on things that are important to you just because you need to find a home. Conversely, don’t accept a bid that you feel is too low just because your finances are strained by two mortgages. If you have a temporary apartment set up, you’re less likely to compromise.

Certainly, selling and buying a house simultaneously will be stressful—but carefully considering and planning for the risks and hurdles can mitigate the stress.



Why Empty Homes Don't Sell

Why Empty Homes Don’t Sell

Posted in Uncategorized, by Blog Contributor on May 11, 2015

By Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space

Every morning on my Chicago area social media feed, I see acres and acres of empty rooms posted by real estate professionals. So many empty dining rooms, breakfast rooms, kitchens, living and bedrooms. Do I stop and click on the photo, intrigued to have a look at the room, the house, the property? No, I just scroll on by … Do I read the eloquently written description? Do I appreciate the professional photography? No, I just scroll on by … Why? It’s that they all look the same; devoid of any senses, any flavor, any style.


#1. An empty home leaves an empty canvas to paint negative thoughts on. Prospective buyers will find imperfections or they’ll not be interested or overlook features. An empty home amplifies negative thoughts.

#2. Empty homes lack a vision of its layout. What is this room? A staged home shows off how the home flows and how each space can be used.

#3. An empty home is void of imagination and feeling. People buy homes on emotion. An empty property is just a HOUSE, a staged property becomes a HOME. Home staging creates the emotion that your prospective buyers envisioned.

#4. The National Association of REALTORS 2015 Profile on Home Staging found that 81 percent of buyers find it is easier to visualize a property as a future home when it’s staged.

“A staged home may seem like it has furniture that’s fixed in place; but what is going on in the buyer’s mind is a very kinetic process. With a home that is staged, they see a family – celebrating home.” –Julea Joseph

Should You Price a Home High or Low? A New Study Makes a Surprising Recommendation

Home prices are up. Mortgage rates are low. Housing supply is stretched thin. Suffice it to say—it’s a tight market.

And in a tight market, the conventional wisdom is to price your house a little lower than its actual value, in the hopes of sparking a bidding war that will result in an above-marketsale price.

Not so fast! Homes priced higher might end up selling even higher, according to a study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

The authors surveyed more than 200,000 homes listed in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2009 and found that homes priced 10% to 20% higher than similar homes saw a bump.

It’s tied to a psychological tendency called “anchoring”—using the first price we see as the anchor around which we base our judgment. It’s why sales make shoppers salivate—if jeans have an $80 price tag, then we think 20% off is a steal, even if another store sells jeans at $60.

We may also accentuate the positive in order to fit our anchored model—”a buyer exposed to a high-priced property might attend more to the attractive landscaping, than to the outdated plumbing,” the study notes.

But there are a few caveats—the numbers came before and during the market crash of 2007–2008. And the returns, while statistically relevant, may not mean much for the bottom line. A Wall Street Journal article on the study notes that brokers may also have to spend more time marketing the house to justify the price tag and the difference in fees wouldn’t be worth it.

In the current market, brokers suggest the opposite. All around the country, they research comparable sales. Could they price a home a little higher? Perhaps. But is it worth the risk?

John Windle, a Coldwell Banker Apex Realtor® in McKinney, TX, says the market in his area is tight enough—lots of buyers, not enough inventory—that homeowners can price to sell at the top end of the suggested range. But prices still hew closely to what similar homes recently sold for.

Homes that sold last year for $200,000 easily sell for $205,000 or more this year, he says. So while comparable sales and research might suggest lower pricing, based on last year’s data, he might suggest a slightly higher price based on the current market.

I always encourage them to price it for where the market settled,” he says.

In the San Francisco Bay AreaDarcy Barrow and her husband have a high-end real estate business, Foundation Homes International. They sell homes in a price range that’s about 10 times what Windle handles in Texas, but they approach home sales similarly. If anything, they suggest underpricing the homes they represent.

If you price it just a hair under market, you get a buzz going,” she says. “Smart buyers who are advised well are usually coming in just a little over market.”

So the home still sells, money changes hands quickly, and everyone walks away with a deal.

Do You Have Buyer's Paralysis?

Do You Have Buyer's Paralysis?

Many issues can be at root of indecision

By Blanche Evans

You've looked at dozens of homes. Your REALTOR® is about to tear her hair out with frustration. You are paralyzed, letting one great home after another pass you by. Why can't you make a decision?

Buying a home can be an overwhelming process. There are so many decisions to make and any of them can mean serious financial consequences. A home, after all, is hardly a liquid asset. Nor is it a growth investment, according to Wall Street definitions. It's your greatest financial debt, even while it puts a roof over your head. As it appreciates, it also needs repairs and maintenance. With all that weighing on you, no wonder you've got commitmentphobia.

Yet, you really want to buy a home. You know that few purchases will provide you the quality of life that a home of your own does. There are plenty of advantages, as well - tax breaks, rising real estate values, a stable environment for the family, to name only a few. So you stifle your worries and keep looking for homes. You just can't find the one that's just right for you.

It might be time to back this train up and examine what is causing the conflict between wanting to buy and being unable to make a decision. There is a cause, and it's name is money. The question is, which aspect of money is stopping you from moving forward?

Fear of spending too much
Lenders will loan you money at the top of your ability to borrow. Realtors will suggest that you will be happier in a "bigger, better" home, eliminating the need to "trade up" in a few years. Stretching to buy the most home you can possibly afford is a good strategy, but only under certain conditions - that you have confidence that your salary will rise, that your income is stable, and that you can handle large surprise expenses.

If you've been pre-qualified, you are already looking at bigger, better, more beautiful homes at the top of your range. But something isn't quite right. Even though you may feel that your income is stable, a feeling is telling you that if you buy in this range, you won't have enough in reserves should something happen. Those are your instincts talking, and you should listen, because your desires have been doing the talking up to now. Your instincts are telling your desires to scale back a little.

That means backtracking. Talk to your Realtor and ask her to show you less expensive homes. You can't go wrong buying slightly under your ability. In fact, many financial advisors tell their clients to budget about 25% of their income for housing in order to position them to build reserves for savings, investments, home improvements, emergencies and dozens of other reasons. That's almost six percent less than lenders will allow you to borrow. Just think what else you can do with six percent of your income. You'll still have your house, you'll just have more to do other things with.

A conflict in goals
Many couples purchase homes with the idea that they will have a child, so stretching buying power to have the extra space makes sense. But if you are trying to accomplish two big financial goals at the same time - buying a home and adding to your family, then something has to give.

You can't have it all - peace of mind, a large mortgage, and burgeoning expenses all at the same time. Something has to give and the way to do that is simply to prioritize your goals. In what order of importance do you want things to happen? What is most important to you? Whether you are planning a family, returning to graduate school, paying off a student loan, or buying a new car, you surely realize that your financial pie can only be sliced so many ways. Your mortgage is the largest, and the larger it is the smaller the other pieces.

Problems in the marriage
This is one of the toughest issues to address, and one your Realtor can't help you with. But just as you are listening to your instincts about the amount of money you should spend on your new home, you should be paying even more attention to your feelings about your marriage. And only you can answer the question - will we still be together in five years? You should at least be able to predict being together long enough to pay off the interest on your loan! Or you'll be selling your home without the benefit of building any equity and equity only comes with appreciation and mortgage reduction.

Buying a home will not fix a poor relationship. It will only make things worse. So you have a decision to make and it isn't which house to buy. It is whether or not you want this relationship to survive. If you decide you want the marriage, then you must pour your efforts into fixing its problems, including your share of the blame. Be willing to change some things, compromise on others, or accept many things as they are. If you can't do all of those, then to dissolve the partnership is your only other choice. After you have solved the problems in your relationship, you will find your home more easily.

Fear of the future
Fear takes the fun out of a lot of things, but there is reasonable fear and unreasonable fear. Unreasonable fears have no basis in reality, so there is little you can do beyond getting professional help for your anxiety. Reasonable fears you can handle on your own with a little common sense.

Fear can be tamed by looking at the worst case scenarios compared to the best case scenarios. So examine the questions that are really bothering you.

What if we can't make our payments? This question can be balanced by a best case. What if we manage our money so well that we can make double payments? So the fear here is manageable - it comes down to how confident you are about managing your money. If you aren't sure of yourself, get help. Ask someone whose money management style you admire for advice on how to manage your money better. Then stick with it.

What if the value of our home goes down in value? Would you feel as fearful if you asked yourself whether your property will go up in value? Property can go up or down, but all property requires maintenance or it surely will deteriorate in value. This can be easily prevented by having enough budgeted or in your reserves to perform scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Look at the properties surrounding the home you are considering. Are they maintained with pride? Are they being updated? Then your chances are good that the neighborhood and your home will retain its value. Rest assured that there will always be a buyer for an attractive, well-maintained property.

Because it is not a liquid asset, real estate is not as volatile as you think. It goes down slowly and rises comparatively slowly. And home values even when depressed may get a resuscitation after a few years. Your best hedge against the future is to keep your property in desirable condition.

You can't predict the future. The only thing you can do is prepare yourself to handle what may happen.

So money isn't the root of all evil, but it is the root of indecision - at least when you are paralyzed about buying a home. Thinking through the money issues can help you get moving one direction or the other. For some of you, just reading this article will put your jitters to rest. For others, you may realize that a home isn't in the cards for you right now, and that's OK. Wait a few days or weeks if you need to. Use the time to regroup. It is far better for you to work through a few obstacles than to jump into the largest investment of your life without confidence. If you can work through your fears, get your finances in tip top shape and proceed, you'll find buying a home doesn't have to be a paralyzing decision. In fact, it can be one of the most exhilarating things you'll ever do.

If you are worried about cash flow, then making disproportionately large house payments will tarnish the joy of home ownership, unless you can find ways to cut down the other pie pieces. Work to improve your cash flow. Accelerate your credit card pay -offs Don't incur new debt. Rebudget your expenses and eliminate unnecessary expenditures. Make compromises - vow to cut down if you can't cut something out. Be willing to move timelines for meeting your goals. Don't be influenced by others to live beyond your means. Set your sights on an affordable home, and you may find your dream home will appear right before your very eyes.

Copyright © by Realty Times

My Offer Was Accepted-Now What?

Having your offer accepted feels great—but for most home buyers, it’s just the beginning. There is still a lot more to be done before you’re over the front threshold. Here’s a rundown of what comes next.

1. Apply for a loan

Unless you’re paying in cash, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage loan (if you’re already pre-approved, good for you). If you’re not pre-approved, meet with at least two or three lenders and compare their loan options. Be prepared to ask questions, and be completely open with the lenders about your finances.

2. Home appraisal and inspection

The next step is getting your home appraised and inspected.

Your lender will require your house be appraised by a professional, who is usually provided by the lender. The appraisal gives you a detailed report on the value of the home. If the home’s appraised value is less than the purchase price, you will need to either make a greater down payment or negotiate with the seller to lower the price. A lender won’t give you a loan for more than the appraised value.

A home inspection tells you if the home has any issues. Inspections aren’t always required, but you should absolutely get one even if you’re not getting a loan. Go over the inspection report in detail with the inspector to make sure you’re familiar with any problems, their severity, and the estimated cost to fix them. Additionally, you may also want to get your home checked for radon and pests, which are additional costs.

If the inspector finds problems, you may be able to get the seller to pay for necessary repairs or lower the price to adjust for the cost.

3. Get your funds ready

Make sure the funds you need for closing and in reserves are both accessible. If you need to pull money from an investment, do it right away. Keep the paperwork for the transaction to show your lender you liquidated funds to get your down payment.

4. Find homeowners insurance

In most cases, buyers are expected to pay for homeowners insurance upfront, before closing. Depending on where you live, you might need extra insurance, like flood coverage. Shop around at several different insurance companies for the best rate. Your lender will need proof of insurance before approving your mortgage. 

5. Final walk-through

You will be allowed to do a final walk-through of your new home 48 hours before closing.

This allows you to make sure any items that should be there, as per your contract, remain. It also lets you check the condition of the home to make sure no extra damages have occurred. If you find anything different from what you agreed upon, you may postpone the closing to give the seller time to fix the problem.

It’s important that you catch every issue during the final walk-through. If you spot them after closing, they’re going to be your problem.

6. Closing

This is the day when you sign the mortgage documents and officially gain ownership of the property. Most likely your Realtor® will be there, as well as the seller, the seller’s Realtor, the closing officer, and perhaps the mortgage broker.

You will need to bring ID and a cashier’s check to pay closing costs, which you will know in advance (and if they look different, don’t be afraid to walk away). Your spouse will also need photo ID. (In some states, spouses are required to attend and sign papers even if they aren’t on the mortgage.) Check with your Realtor about the details of your closing.

Updated from an earlier version by Laura Sherman

What’s a Deal Breaker at a Home Inspection?

Fourteen first home buyers. The home inspector who was our night’s guest speaker asked each of them what they most wanted to learn from tonight’s walk-through.

We heard lots of smart answers. We also heard the same phrase over and over.

“Deal breaker.”

Everyone wanted the inspector to tell them, “What’s a deal breaker at a home inspection?”

Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell them. Why? Because a deal breaker is different for every deal. And it’s not only the house problems that could kill you.

It’s Personal

The buyer whose family owns a roofing business won’t consider a leak in the attic a deal breaker.

But the single mom with four kids who needs a house that’s solid right from the start might.

Each buyer has different standards for the house they want to buy. They have different amounts of money. And they have different tolerances for messes.

It’s Subject to Timing

A deal breaker when you’re looking at your first house may not be a deal breaker when you’re looking at your sixteenth house.

There’s nothing like running out of options to make you less fussy.

It Depends on the Deal

A motivated seller whose house has been on the market for a year might be happy to make or pay for repairs your inspector found. Their willingness to make repairs might turn a deal breaker problem into one that’s easily dealt with after simple negotiations.

What’s a Deal Breaker for You

I’ve met fussy first home buyers for whom carpets showing instead of hardwood floors were a deal breaker.

I’ve also known first home buyers who are undaunted by houses that should probably have been condemned.

What do they have in common? Their lack of knowledge skewed their understanding of what a deal breaker is.

The fussy home buyer needed to figure out if the hardwood floors she craved were hiding under the carpets. And the undaunted home buyer needed to have a long talk with his home inspector about what it means when a house is structurally unsound.

So how do you figure out what’s a deal breaker for you?

Think about it before you view a house

When you’re enraptured by a sunny breakfast nook, you might not recognize something that should be a deal breaker when you see it.

Make a list of house problems that concern you before you start looking. Are you willing to address roof issues? Plumbing? How about foundation problems?

Ask your home inspector

No, don’t ask him, “Is this a deal breaker?” He can’t, or shouldn’t, answer that for you.

Instead ask things like, “How hard is this to fix?” “About how expensive is this type of repair?” And “is this a job that probably requires a professional?”

Learn about houses

I love old houses and learned about how to care for mine by reading Old House Journal. It’s clear instructions helped me understand what jobs I could do and which were more than I could handle.

I wish I had started reading it before I bought a house.

You’ll know more about what’s a deal breaker for you if you find a good website, magazine, or book to teach you about taking care of the kind of house you want to buy.

Only You Can Decide

Your home inspector, your real estate agent, even your mom and dad can’t tell you what’s a deal breaker for you.

Heck, even I can’t tell you. If you don’t want to bother with tearing up carpet to find hardwood floors then maybe it is a deal breaker for you.

4 Myths About Down Payment Assistance Programs

Why do people turn down free money?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over the years I’ve worked for a housing nonprofit.

Most people I meet who qualify for down payment help take advantage of it. But there are always a few sticklers who walk away from a wonderful opportunity.

Why? Is it because they’d rather believe in unicorns than in down payment assistance programs?

Down Payment Assistance Myths

How many of these have you heard?

Myth #1 – You have to be extremely poor to get help.

Many down payment programs are linked to your income.

If you look up the guidelines for income-based programs, you’ll see that you need to be below a certain percentage of your area’s median income (median means that half the people make less than that number and half make more). But that percentage will vary from program to program.

The nonprofit I work with can help families whose income is as high as 120% of the area income, or over $90,000 for a household of four. Since the incomes are based on area averages, if you live in a wealthier area, you can earn more and still qualify.

But some programs aren’t income based at all.

In some cities, major employers will provide down payment help to convince their staff to buy homes near work. And some housing finance agencies provide help to people in certain professions, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters.

So it’s at least worth making a call before you count yourself out from getting help. And even if your income is too high for you to get down payment help, you may be able to take advantage of home buyer classes that can save you thousands just by making you smarter.

Myth #2 – There are no programs in my area.

It’s amazing how often we miss wonderful things happening right in our backyard.

Sometimes you need to dig a bit to find the programs near you. Here are a few places to check:

And don’t forget to ask real estate agents or lenders for their suggestions.

Myth #3 – Down payment programs take too long to get.

A popular matched savings program here in New York state takes at least 10 months. But that’s only one program.

Other programs work more like banks. If you have your paperwork in order, you can get approval for help in less than two weeks.

What’s the lesson?

Start shopping for down payment help long before you start looking at houses. Well before you start looking.

But if you’re already shopping, start looking for potential programs now. Don’t leave money on the table that could be yours.

Myth #4 – Down payment programs are not worth the trouble.

Are you lazy? Or do you really think $20,000 or $30,000 isn’t such a big deal?

If you’re buying a $200,000 house and get a mortgage at 4.25% interest, you’ll spend about $984 for your mortgage alone.

But if you can get $30,000 in down payment help, your payment may go down as low as $836 and save you thousands in interest over the life of your mortgage.

Do you mean to tell me a few hours of your time isn’t worth $150 a month? And that’s not counting the amount you’ll save on mortgage insurance or interest.

Let’s see, that’s $1800 a year. Enough for a nice vacation. Perhaps it will help you to build a new patio for your house. Or start your emergency fund for unexpected repairs.

Don’t Be A Cynic

Why do people believe these myths about down payment programs? I think it’s because they’ve gotten cynical.

If something sounds too good to be true, it’s worth asking, “what’s the catch?”.

But remember that you can benefit from someone else serving their own interests.

First home buyers help the economy. Employers need employees. Cities and towns need tax payers.

Sometimes it’s in someone else’s best interest to help you.

So don’t buy the myths about down payment assistance programs. Check them out for yourself. And don’t leave free money behind.

Character Traits of Successful Home Buyers

Everyone will tell you what you need to buy your first home:

  • good credit
  • steady income
  • plenty of savings.

Is that all? Or do some first home buyers have character traits that will make them more successful than others?

In ten years of holding home buyers’ hands, I’ve definitely seen that some buyers have a better experience than others. And it’s not usually money or credit that makes the difference.

It’s character.

Character Traits of Successful Home Buyers

The list could be longer. But these traits make the biggest difference.


As someone who teaches home buyer classes, a curious learner makes my heart swoon. But it’s also a great trait to make you a better home buyer.

Why? Because curious people dig deeper to figure things out. They browse online for down payment help. They figure out whether they should apply for a 30 year or 15 year mortgage. They ask about every closing cost. And sometimes they even find charges they shouldn’t be paying at all.


Impatient people make bad decisions.

They don’t take home buyer classes. They visit only one mortgage lender. They buy the first house they’re interested in.

A little patience can save you thousands and make you happier in the long-term.

Not Easily Bored

I won’t lie to you. Disclosures and mortgages make dull reading.

In truth, most people don’t even try to read them.

But if you can put your boredom aside and read all the home buying paperwork that crosses your eyes, you won’t make big mistakes. Like one easily bored home buyer who didn’t realize she had gotten an adjustable rate mortgage until five years after closing. True story.


If you’re buying a house in the spring in a busy market you might find it hard to get anyone to return your calls.

It’s time to put on your persistence panties.

When you need an answer you’ll have to follow up. And follow up again.

And you’ll persist yourself right into a house you’ll love.


I’ll never forget meeting the couple who couldn’t compromise on anything.

They were only interested in houses in one neighborhood. The house had to be in perfect condition. And it had to cost less than $200,000.

It took two years of being disappointed but they finally learned to bend. I wonder how much better their experience would have been if they were flexible from the beginning.


I hear the same thing every few months: “My real estate agent is making me nuts. She…” Fill in the blank—never answers my texts, keeps showing me houses I can’t afford, is always late for showings, or whatever.

My response? “Have you told her how upset you are?”

“Oh, no. I’m thinking of just finding someone else.”

Face palm.

How do you expect someone to do a good job for you if you don’t talk to them? Remember, as a home buyer, you’re the boss. And you need to tell the people working for you what you want them to do.

A Good Sense of Humor

Whether you’re buying a house, getting married, giving birth, or having a root canal, a sense of humor makes everything easier.

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Let’s face it, real estate listings are just hilarious. And after touring the twentieth house that looks nothing like the pictures you’d better laugh. Because if you don’t, you’ll just cry.

Work On Your Self

When you’re doing something stressful it’s a good idea to work on yourself and not just your finances.

I joke in my classes that home buyers should take up yoga or meditation before they get too far into the process. But being stressed out is no joke.

So while you’re doing all the financial things that every tells you will make you a successful home buyer, don’t forget to work on the character traits that you’ll need just as much.