• 3 Ways to Help Save Up Money this Year for Your Downpayment

    If buying a home is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, it is time to start thinking of saving up for that downpayment. The good news is there are loan options that allow for as low as a 3% downpayment, but typically the more money you put down, the better your loan product and rate. You can start saving up for your downpayment this month with these three tips. 

    Make a budget. Start by tracking all of your spending for at least a month. This will help you get an idea of where your money is going and where you can cut back. Once you have an idea of where you can cut back, make a budget of your fixed and variable expenses. This will help you plan for savings and make sure you stay within your budget. 

    Open a high-interest savings account. Look for a bank that offers a high-interest savings account and transfer your savings into it. With a high-interest savings account, you can earn more money on your savings and grow your down payment more quickly. 

    Automate your savings. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. This will ensure that you are regularly saving money each month, and it will make it easier to reach your down payment goal.

  • Week Eight – What to Expect Once Under Contract

    Once you are under contract, all parties will begin working through the due diligence period and contingencies on the contract. 

    During this time, the buyer will most likely order an inspection on the home to ensure there are no major issues. These inspections can include but are not limited to: a general inspection, radon inspection, sewer scope, mold inspection, roof inspection, structural engineer, etc. A general inspection typically takes a few hours, so plan on being away during this time. 

    Many times, after the inspection, issues will arise that result in another round of negotiations. The buyer may request that you do some repair work or ask for a credit in lieu of repair work. Each inspection and buyer is different, but your agent will be there with sound advice, creative suggestions, and negotiation skills to help you through.

    The lender will also most likely order an appraise to ensure the value. The Lender does not want to be lending more money than the home is worth, so an appraisal is ordered to determine the market value of the home by an independent third-party. 

    During this time, the title company will perform a title search. A Title Company will search all records of the home to verify that the title is indeed transferrable and all liens and loans on the home are paid off during closing ensuring the buyer has no future issues. If you have a loan on your home, the title company will also ask for you to provide them with some information so they can order the payoff letter for your loan, which will be paid at closing.  

    Once all these have been completed and the buyer’s loan has been approved through underwriting, it will be time for you to head to the closing table! 

    Prior to closing, make sure that you have all your moving plans in place. When the buyer takes possession of the home, you should be completely moved out and the home left in a cleanly condition. Call your utilities companies and make sure they are aware of the move and transfer everything out of your name effective on the day of possession. 

    Once the loan is fully approved and the transaction fully funded, you have sold your home. The title company will record the real estate documents with the tax county for you, and the buyers will be able to move in as agreed upon in the contract. Congratulations!!! 

  • Week Seven – The Offer

    Of course, as a seller, you want to get the most money out of your home when you sell it as possible. But there is a lot more to offers that just the dollar amount. 

    It is important to review ALL aspects of an offer before signing it, regardless of whether you have just one on the table or ten. 

    So let’s talk about some other key components you should be reviewing in your offers.

    • ✔️ Reputable Lender. A offer well over asking may be amazing, but if the lender can get that loan to the closing table, then it is all for naught. Make sure the lender has a good reputation and can get the deal done within the specified time.
    • ✔️ Closing Date. Does this date fit your needs? Is it too lengthy? Not far enough out? 
    • ✔️ Reasonable Dates. Beyond just the closing date, you want to make sure the other dates are are reasonably short. Why, you may ask? If the buyer asks for an exceptional long inspection period and then decides at the final hour that the home inspection does not meet their expectations then you have wasted an awfully long amount of time off the market. You want to get it back on the market quickly if there is an issue.
    • ✔️ Contingencies. Does the buyer have to sell a home prior to purchasing yours? Any contingency like this puts an extra layer of risk in the deal. It happens quite often, but be aware.
    • ✔️ Concessions. Sometimes the buyer will ask for the seller to pay concessions at closing towards their closing costs. This will affect your bottom line.
  • Week Six – The Perfect Showing

    Once photos of your home is completed, marketing is prepared, and the sign is in the front yard, you are ready to put your home on the market! In addition to the MLS, you can ask your agent to make your listing available on syndication sites like Realtor.com and Zillow. 

    Showings will soon begin on your home. It is helpful to make yourself as flexible as possible for showings to accommodate potential buyers. Be sure to keep your home show ready as much as possible during this time period. It might even be wise to make plans to be away the first weekend if you anticipate it will be really busy. 

    You prepped your home for to get the best photos, and during showings you want to do your best to keep it that way. You want your buyers to feel at home and fall in love. So before you leave the house for a showing, take a few minutes to run through this checklist:

    Open All Windows & Turn On All the Lights. Walking into a dark, dimly lit home just doesn’t spark the same amount joy as walking into a light, bright one does.

    Put Away All Clutter. This includes the countertops, toys, and pet items. The cleaner the canvas the better buyers can imagine themselves there.

    Give It a Quick Clean. Wipe down the countertops and vacuum the floors the morning of, if possible.

    Check for Any Odors. Make sure the trash is taken out and the dirty laundry is put up. Avoid simply covering up the odor with air fresheners as some people can be sensitive to these.

    Set a Comfortable Temperature. A house that is too hot or too cold can create a bad showing experience for the buyer making them think negatively about your home.

    Create an Ambiance. Whether it is lighting the fireplace or turning on some music, make your home as welcoming as possible.

  • Week Five – A Photo-Worthy Home

    Photos will be the VERY FIRST impression that buyers will get of your home. Most everyone these days begins their home search online, browsing through photos. Between all the houses, they can start to blend together, so it stands to reason that you want the best photos possible that will stop them in their tracks.

    This starts with a great photographer, so it is key to make sure that your agent hires a professional to take the listing photos rather than using a mobile phone or personal camera.

    But your part is just as crucial, and that is preparing your home for photos. You don’t need to hire an interior design or get a stager involved (if you don’t want to), but you will want to be intentional about how you prep your home before photos.

    Use this checklist to help make your home HGTV photo-worthy!

    The Kitchen

    • Clear the countertops of all non-decorative items.
    • Remove all magnets, photos, and artwork from your refrigerator. 
    • Wipe down the sink, particularly stainless steel ones.

    The Bathrooms

    • Clear the countertops of all non-decorative items.
    • Remove all shampoos and soaps from the shower area.
    • Ensure all toilet seats are down and toilet paper is filled.

    The Living Areas

    • Remove any seasonal, religious, or political decor.
    • Remove all personal items and minimize family photos.
    • Ensure all toys are put away.

    The Yard

    • Make sure the grass is freshly cut and the landscaping is trimmed.
    • Put away flags, hoses, pool equipment, etc.
    • Ensure all pet waste is removed from the yard.


    • Turn on all lights, including lamps, and open all curtains.
    • Put away all pet items including food and water bowls.
    • Ensure no vehicle are parked in front of the house.
  • Week Four – Pricing Your Home

    When it comes time to sell your home, the pricing and preparation are just as important, if not more important, than the marketing itself. When it comes to pricing your home, your agent should do a thorough analysis of the comparables in your neighborhood to determine market value. It is important to price your home correctly right off the bat to avoid it sitting on the market. Homes priced too high tend to sit and eventually sell for a lower purchase price. 

    When preparing your analysis, an agent will look at similar homes in your area that have recently sold, are currently listed, or were withdrawn from the market without selling to determine what your home may sell for in today’s market.

    Your agent will likely use properties that have similar:

    • Size
    • Bedroom Count
    • Bathroom Count
    • Location
    • Style
    • Etc

    They will consider what makes your home unique from other properties including features, upgrades, location, etc as well as qualities that may make it less desirable when compared to other homes.

    All this information is used to properly price your home when listed. Pricing is key when listing, and we want to insure it is done well off the bat. Pricing your home too high could lead to extended time on the market and ultimately lower offers since buyers will begin to question if something is wrong with it.

    This is a crucial step as a well-priced home will attract more buyers and sell quicker.

  • Week Three – Preparing Your Home

    You’ve decided that it is time to sell. To make sure you get the most for your home and have a successful sale, it is imperative that you prep your home for the market. Before you schedule those photos and make your plan for that first week of showings, there are some things that you should take care of.

    Tackle Maintenance. Unless they are looking for a property to invest into, most buyers are looking for homes without problems. In fact, avoiding plumbing, electrical, and other maintenance problems is the number one reason those that buy new construction do so, and buyers, in my experience, tend to overestimate the cost of such maintenance issues. It also causes them to look at the home with even more of a magnifying glass thinking, “If they overlooked taking care of this, what else did they miss?”

    Have you neglected to change out any filters? Have a leak you’ve been putting off? Have caulk that is in dire need of a refresh? Take a weekend before you list your house and tackle some of these issues.

    Clean Up Landscaping. The front of your home is the first impression that buyers will get of your property, and you want to make it great. Weeds, leaves, and overgrown grass won’t send the message, “You have to buy this house!” So prior to listing, make sure you mow the grass, pick up any leaves or dead foliage, and spray some weed killer. 

    Power Wash or Paint the Front Door. Before they enter your home, buyers are going to get a minute or so just standing at the door while their agent opens the lockbox. They will have time to look around and size up the property. Make sure you have power washed all those cobwebs off and maybe even give the front door a new coat of paint.

    Declutter. You are planning on moving soon, so why not get to packing. The one thing all model homes have in common is that they are free from clutter. You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your stuff is everywhere. So minimize your closets and keep out only the clothes you need. Clear off the countertops of anything that isn’t strictly for decoration. Pack it all nicely in boxes and set it in your garage.

  • Week Two – How Much Will I Make?

    Outside of wondering how much their home is worth, the first question I usually get from sellers is, “How much money will I walk away with?”

    It is important in the planning stages to prepare a net sheet to review the costs associated with the sale and how they affect your bottom line. This will not give you an exact dollar amount as changes in purchase price, closing date, and any concessions will alter that final number, but it will give you a pretty good idea of what you will be walking away with. 

    In putting together your net sheet, you will want to consider these typical closing costs:

    Owner’s Title Insurance Policy. Title insurance protects the buyer from any issues arising from defects on title after they purchase the home. While it can be negotiated, this is typically paid for by the seller. 

    Tax Proration. The seller is responsible for the taxes while they lived in the home. Since taxes are usually paid once a year, this portion will typically be prorated and credited to the buyer at closing. The buyer will then be responsible for paying the full bill.

    Closing and Recording Fees. The Title Company or other closing entity will usually charge a fee to facilitate the closing of the transaction, and the state will charge recording fees for the sale documents.

    Real Estate Agent Commissions. In most cases, the seller will pay a commission to the listing agent. The listing agent will pay the buyer’s agent and their broker from that commission.

    While this is not an all encompassing list of fees you may pay at closing, this should get you a good idea of your net on the sale of your home.

  • Week One – Is It Time to Sell?

    “There’s never been a better time to sell!”

    “You should wait to see if prices keep going up…”

    “It’s a seller’s market!”

    “You should wait till spring…”

    If you have ever mentioned to ANYONE that you are thinking of selling your home, you have undoubtedly been met with plenty of advice – both positive and negative. And while there are many external forces like the housing market, interest rates, or the economy that can influence your decision, the only one that can truly answer if this is the right time to sell is YOU.

    As you are making the decision to sell, there are a few questions you should answer for yourself. 

    1. How much is your home worth? This is always the first step when you being to consider selling your home. Knowing the current market value of your home will help you make an informed decision. So skip the Zestimate and call a knowledgeable real estate agent to perform a valuation on your home.
    1. What is your current housing market like? While you may hear all about the U.S. housing market in the news, things can be vastly different from local market to local market. Are you in a seller’s market where your home will move quickly? Do you need to plan on extra time or repair funds for a buyer’s market? Talk with your real estate agent to understand exactly what to expect in your market.
    1. Will you be subject to capital gains? With the increase in home prices and values in the last two years, you may be sitting on huge chunk of equity in your home which is great for you. However, you may be subject to capital gains tax on the proceeds from your home. Generally, if you have lived in your home as your primary residence for 2 out of the last 5 years, you will not be taxed on the first $250,000 if you are single or $500,000 if you are married. Talk with your tax professional to find out how this may impact you.
  • Week Twelve – Tying Up the Loose Ends

    You are almost there! But there is still more to do before you cross that finish line.

    Many times, after the inspection, issues will arise that result in another round of negotiations. You may request the seller does repair work or ask for a credit in lieu of repair work. Try to only bring your biggest issues to the forefront. Sellers tend to be less agreeable when you come to them with a laundry list of items and usually pick the smallest ones. 

    Once final negotiations, the appraisal, and the title search have all been completed your loan will be submitted it to underwriting for final approval. Underwriting will do a final review to make sure all conditions are met and the loan is solid before approval. Expect loan approval to come close to closing. 

    At least three days prior to closing, you should receive your Closing Disclosure. This is a disclosure your lender is required to provide to you showing the final loan terms and all the closing costs associated with your loan, as well as the final amount you will need to bring to closing. You should review this and direct any questions to the lender immediately. 

    Now you are ready…It’s time to schedule that closing and become a homeowner!

  • Week Eleven – 3 Reasons You Need an Inspection

    Last week I mentioned that an inspection on your new home will cost you around $350 – $750 depending on the size of the home. Now I know you may be thinking, 

    “Wow, that’s a lot of money. The home looked great when we toured it, and it was recently remodeled. I really don’t see a reason for spending a bunch of money for nothing.”

    Well, let me stop you right there. There is NO perfect home. Let me say that again…There is NO perfect home. 

    Even a brand new construction home is bound to have at least one mistake or issue because it is, after all, build by the human hand (and human make mistakes). 

    But if that knowledge does not sway you, here are three reasons you need a home inspection:

    1. Some of the most costly issues in homes cannot be seen. A busted sewer pipe, foundation issues, and termite damage can be difficult to spot but can cost you thousands of dollars to fix. 
    2. You cannot put a price on safety. Safety issues can be easily overlooked and sometimes completely invisible to homebuyer. Radon gas, carbon monoxide, and mold can be extremely deadly if not detected and treated. 
    3. Inspections allow you to make a wise decision. Whether it is avoiding a home that needs costly repairs, negotiating repairs with the seller, or ensuring you have the necessary funds for future repairs, an inspection can give you the information that will allow you to make an informed and wise decision about your new home. 

    While you don’t get your money back on the inspection if the contract falls through, I always suggest getting an inspection on your new home.

  • Week Ten – You Are Under Contract! Now What?

    Once you are under contract, you will begin working your way through the due diligence period and contingencies on the contract. There is A LOT going on during this time period, but you will have your real estate agent right by your side to walk you through the whole process. 

    Here are a few of the things that will happen once you are under contract:

    The Inspection. You have the opportunity to have someone come in and inspect the home for any issues. An inspection on your new home by a professional will cost you around $350 – $750 depending on the size of the home but is well worth it to avoid major issues down the road.

    The Appraisal. Your Lender will want to ensure they are not lending you more money than the home is worth, so an appraisal is ordered to determine the market value of the home by an independent third-party. 

    Title Search. A Title Company will search all records of the home to verify that the title is indeed transferrable and all liens and loans on the home are paid off during closing ensuring you do not have future issues. 

    Home Insurance. Your lender is going to require that you maintain home insurance to protect their investment. You will want to secure a home insurance plan to commence on the closing date. Make sure you have applicable certificates that your lender may require (i.e. flood insurance). 

  • Week Nine – How To Make an Offer that Stands Out

    You have found THE ONE. Now how do you ensure you get that home?

    Making an offer on a home may be one of the most daunting parts of real estate. But do not fear – your real estate agent will help you review recent comparable sales in the neighborhood, as well as other factors about the home and other potential offer to help you structure an offer and negotiate a price and contract you are happy with.

    As you put your offer together, here are a few things to think about: 

    Always Put Your Best Foot Forward. Everyone wants to get a deal on their new home, but in our current market, that may not be possible. You may be competing with multiple other offers. So make sure that you put your best offer forward. You may be thinking that you will start lower so you can go higher if need be, but you may not get that chance and lose out entirely. 

    Cash Will Always Be More Attractive. If you have it, use it. If you are getting a loan to buy the home, offer to put more money down or offer a higher earnest deposit so the sellers know you are committed. 

    Ask the Seller What They Want. While purchase price is huge when it comes to your offer, there may be other factors that are more important to the seller. If they are building a new home, they may prefer a later closing or a rent back. Make sure you ask what they are looking for and include it in your offer. 

    Shorten Inspection Period and Offer a Quicker Close – unless the seller requests otherwise. A shorter inspection period will mean less time off the market should the contract fall through. A quicker close means, the seller gets their money sooner – and probably has to pay less on their loan, insurance, and utilities. 

    Now it’s time to get you under contract!

  • Week Eight – How Do You Know You Have Found THE ONE?

    Your head is now spinning from all the homes that you have toured. You are pretty sure that you have found the ONE. But now the gravity of the situation has now settled upon you, and you are starting to question everything. Don’t worry – this is completely normal. So how do you know this is truly the one?

    Here are some pretty good “green flags”:

    • It checks all the NEEDS boxes.
    • You cannot stop thinking about it.
    • You have already told your friends and family about it. 
    • You compared every other home you see to this one. 
    • You keep looking at all the photos over and over again. 
    • You have already arranged all your furniture in it in your mind. 
    • You have already talked about your first Christmas there. 
    • You’ve driven by the house about 12 times since your showing. 

    If you find yourself here, it is a pretty good indicator that you have found the one. To sum it up, no one else can tell you which house is the one, and when you know, you really do just know.

  • Week Seven – Five Things to Remember when Touring Homes

    Now that you have your list, you are ready to start seeing some of these houses! 

    Touring homes can be both exhilarating and scary. It is easy to let your emotions take control, so before you step foot in a house, keep these touring tips in mind. 

    1. Before you head out for showings, review your needs and wants list. Keeping these things in mind will help you determine more quickly if this home will work for you.
    2. Take your time during your showing. It’s okay to check out the kitchen more than once. This is a big decision. 
    3. Take photos. It can be tough to remember all the details once you have left the showing. So take pictures to help jog your memory when you sit down to review them.
    4. Do not let staging, decor, or paint colors distract you. All the staging and decor will be gone when you move in and paint colors can easily be changed. So do not let these things overshadow what really matters. 
    5. Remember location, location, location. You can change paint colors and even knock down walls, but you cannot change the location of the home.