What to Know Before Entering the Real Estate Market

Buying a house is a milestone that many want to reach. Having a place to call our own and transform into a home where you can start a new chapter of your life seems like a great idea. Making that dream into a reality takes saving, planning, and researching, which often leaves people feeling overwhelmed and potentially discouraged. Knowing where to start isn’t always crystal clear, and in today’s competitive market, having tools to know where to start and how to stand out will help you navigate the world of buying a home for the first time.

Start Saving Now

Saving for a purchase as big as a house takes time, effort, and strategy. It is never too early to start saving for the home buying process. Consider opening a separate savings account to keep your spending money away from your future house money. It may even be beneficial to look at different savings accounts at other financial institutions to see who will give you the better interest rate while your money sits in savings. If your house buying plans are years in the future, consider putting your funds in a certificate of deposit (CD) where you can earn the most interest during that period. While standard savings accounts have an interest rate, it is smaller than the interest rate of a CD. Locking your funds into a certificate for a year or two may be a good choice if you have a good chunk of money ready to accrue interest. With the time and balance constraints CDs have, some may find a standard savings account more beneficial. While the act of saving, in general, is an incredibly important component of the home buying journey, it is also important to know all of the things you need to save up for.

Down Payment: The majority of the money you save will be for the down payment you make on a home. The more you save up, the better your chances are at securing a loan from a lender or negotiating with a seller. The larger your down payment, the less your loan amount will be, which means you can pay off your mortgage faster.

Closing Costs: The closing costs are fees collected at the end of the buying process. The day you sign the paperwork to buy the house, you will bring funds for the down payment and funds for the closing costs, which include fees from many things done during the loan process.

Here are a few examples of what your closing costs could include: an appraisal of the property, attorney fees for the documentation of the closing, the first year of homeowners insurance, escrow fees for the first two months

Your closing costs can include many things, some may be small, but they can add up quickly. Keeping track of what your closing costs include will help you prepare for how much money you will need to save. Communicating with your lender during each step of the process will prepare you for the closing date.

Understand the Market You Are in

The state of the housing market can turn on a dime. One day it is a buyer’s market and the next, a seller’s market. What that means and how it can impact your journey is important to understand before you start your home buying process.

Buyer’s Market
A buyers market is when there are more houses for sale than people looking to buy. The market consists of homes looking to sell. Often they are on the market for quite some time, which allows the buyer to have the upper hand. There may be price reductions on properties to incentivize a sale, which could bode well for your budget. You can also negotiate with the seller on things like keeping appliances in the home or having the home warranty included in the purchase.

Seller’s Market
This is when more people are looking to buy than there are houses for sale. This gives the sellers an upper hand in that they can have multiple bids on their property, thus driving up the final sale price. If this is the market you are trying to buy in, you may find yourself in a bidding war between yourself and other potential buyers. You want to find ways to stand out that do not take you outside of your budget. This could include a letter to the sellers describing yourself and your situation and why you want to buy their home, which could have them sympathizing with you and find you more deserving of the property. You may also consider offering things like a flexible closing date or a larger amount of cash as a down payment to make you more appealing to the seller.

The market you are buying in will determine how aggressive you need to be as a buyer. If bidding wars are part of your journey, you will have to be prepared to act fast and either increase bids or fold quickly. In either market, you should prepare to say goodbye to a property promptly, as situations can change an offer instantaneously. Things like problems with the inspection or appraisal or even problems with the seller’s housing situation can have them reject the sale. Remembering that nothing is set in stone until you close will help prepare you for surprises that come your way.

Consider the Pros and Cons of Your Housing Options

When you start looking for a house for sale, you and your realtor will decide what type of property you are hoping to find. There are benefits and disadvantages to each type of property available on the market.

Turnkey Home
These homes are often state-of-the-art with appliances and finishings that are on-trend at the moment. A turnkey property could be a great choice if you aren’t looking to do any work to the home after moving in. The downside to buying a turnkey home is that it can be expensive and close to the top of your budget. Depending on the type of market you are in, you could find yourself in a bidding war and potentially lose.

Foreclosed Home
Buying a house in foreclosure can have many benefits. These homes are cheap, often sold at auction, and can need quite a bit of repair. Because they sell at such a low price, you can have an easier time financing the renovations you need to do without going over budget. This will also allow you to create your dream home from scratch. The downside to buying a foreclosed home is that there could be hidden liens on the property that you don’t know about, so it is important to do your research before considering buying one of these homes.

A townhouse is a multi-story house that has a communal wall with the homes next to it. Usually found in urban areas, they have very little yard space and can be the perfect home for someone who craves city living. Townhouses generally have a Home Owners Association (HOA) they must be a member of, which some may view as a pro or a con. The pro is that in paying the HOA fees, they cover things like maintenance of the grounds, which many traditional homeowners would have to do on their own. While townhomes can be more affordable than a traditional home, some may find paying the membership fees for the HOA can take them outside of their budget.

Consider the type of house you want and how that will impact the cost. Buying a home that needs a lot of work to bring it back to good shape can seem like an exciting project to undertake, but make sure you can handle both the financial pressures and the time constraints. If you want to renovate the house from the ground up, chances are you aren’t going to be able to live there while renovations are happening.

Buying a home is an exciting experience. While it may be stressful and overwhelming to think of where to start, sitting down and organizing your to-do list will help you visualize the process. Crossing things off your list one step at a time will help you feel like you are making progress. Always make sure a title search is on that list of things to do before purchasing a home to make sure you are in the clear and the property can really be yours at closing. Once you have those keys in your hand and you step through your front door, you will feel your new chapter starting in a home you call your own.

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Seller’s Market Mistakes

Not Making the Best Offer

When many people see the listing price of a home, they often wonder what they can really get the house for- this is a natural instinct, and it’s understandable, but you’ll need to avoid making a lowball offer in a seller’s market. Many buyers fail to get the home they want in such a market, as with a shortage of inventory and fierce competition, it can be hard to outbid another buyer willing to put their best deal down on the table. Be sure to lead with a strong offer to maximize your chances of getting the home you want.

Over-Analyzing the Purchase Price

Just as buying a home on impulse is risky, over-analyzing a home purchase in a seller’s market is ill-advised as well. If you wait too long to make an offer on the home you want, your risk of losing the home will greatly increase. If you’ve found the type of home you want, in a location you desire, in your price range, that meets your qualifications, don’t wait to make an offer (but be sure to have a preapproval in place and a down payment on hand).

Working with an Inexperienced Agent

If you’re looking for a new home and you find yourself in a seller’s market, you’re going to want to get all the help you can. By having a seasoned agent on your side, you’ll have a better chance of getting the home you want. In most cases, buyers don’t pay real estate agents anyway (sellers usually cover the broker’s fees). Working with a real estate agent will save you a ton of time and stress, as they’ll be able to provide tremendous insight regarding upcoming inventory.

Not Being Prequalified or Preapproved for a Loan

Your ability to be approved for a mortgage loan will be largely based on your steady income, low debt-to-income ratio, and high credit score, but your seller won’t know that unless you first get prequalified by a lender. It’s absolutely paramount to getting the home you want in a competitive market, and not getting prequalified sends a strong message to the seller that you’ll lag on getting your ducks in order and that you aren’t taking the house hunt seriously.

Not Being Prepared for a Bidding War

One of the biggest mistakes a buyer can make in a seller’s market is not being prepared for a bidding war, and it’s understandable- no buyer wants to be involved in such a battle for fear of going over budget. Be sure to set your search below your max budget, so there’s room to spare in case you find yourself in an over-asking bidding war.

Source: Trulia

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Buying a Home in a Seller’s Market

Be patient, find a good realtor and get ready to move fast on a home at a moment’s notice. Sound advice in this crazy seller’s real estate market in America right now. Low interest rates led to historic sales in 2020 and now 2021 has historically low inventory. Sellers are getting dozens of instant offers and buyers have to be ready and will pay more to compete for the home they want.

Patience Is Key: Buyers will most likely be making offers on several homes before their offer is finally accepted. Stay resilient and keep forging forward without getting discouraged. Discipline is necessary for not becoming emotionally invested in any one property that could end up in a bidding war and raising the price. Know what you want and don’t want in a home. Including key features like location, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and know if there is anything that would be a dealbreaker.

Knowing what you want, what you can live with, and what you can’t live with will help you quickly narrow down homes during your search. It also means that when you find a home that is perfect, you won’t have to second guess yourself on whether you should move forward.

The Value of a Good Realtor: The resources, experience, and skills of a good Realtor are priceless when it comes to buying this hot seller’s market. Take the process of finding the perfect Realtor seriously, especially in this market. A high-level agent with the most experience and expertise will help you get the home and the deal you want. Take and follow all the advice he/she gives you knowing that their advice, education, and networking skills will be your best advocate in negotiating. If possible, work only with a Realtor who does real estate full time. As a buyer, you can’t wait for a “lunch break” or “after five” to see a property.

Be Ready. Move Fast: These are the days that you can’t wait. If you see a home online or on the MLS, get out and go see it immediately. Waiting a few days with the shortage of inventory out there could cost you. Homes are moving fast and if it’s a home that you think you will love? Run. Be prepared to make a same-day offer. There is also a possibility that you might have to buy a home sight unseen based only on videos and photos.

Get your financing in order, it will give you the advantage. There is strength in a preapproval letter or having proof of funds documentation on hand as well as working closely with a mortgage broker. You will be competing with other buyers and the one with the most bonafide offer will get the house.

Consider Contingencies: One of the biggest reasons a seller rejects an offer is due to the number of contingencies that are in the offer. The more that the buyer has, the greater the chance a transaction does not get completed.

While contingencies are all designed to protect you as a buyer, assuring you’re getting a safe and livable property, they are an extra burden for the seller. It all means a longer sales process, potentail repair costs and even a lost deal. Having an experienced Realtor as your advocate at this point in the process is key in helping you be careful when making a contingent offer.

The Bottom Line: The seller has the upper hand in this chaotic, hot market. Buying a home during a seller’s market is not for everyone.  There are many factors that need to be considered in order to help decide whether it’s a good idea or not.  Again, having a top Realtor is critical. He/She will be able to help you decide whether waiting is a better option and will be looking out for your best interest.

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Want to Start a New Home Project? Here Are 5 Ideas


Are you moving to a new home? Are you thinking about expanding your existing space? Or are you renovating a room you hardly ever use? If you answered any of these questions with a positive nod of the head, you may be gearing up to start a new home project.

But even the thought of initiating such a project can be highly stressful. From finding the proper supplies to hiring the right experts, you have your work cut out for you every step of the way.

With that being said, pulling off this feat is not entirely impossible. After learning about some critical information, you can easily start and complete a new home project with the utmost ease.

To support you through the seemingly stressful process, here are 5 ideas for a new home project.

Pay Attention to Curb Appeal

If you have enough funds for a new home project, investing some of them into enhancing your curb appeal would be a good idea. It not only gives your home a fresh new aesthetic but also goes a long way toward enhancing its value.

Investments such as stunning landscaping and fresh exterior paint can all do wonders in this aspect. Depending upon your budget and comfort, you can choose the level of upgrades you want to make in this regard. These changes can be as minimal or as extensive as you may like. But in all cases, you should make it a point to make them as noticeable as possible.

It’s because when these curb appeal enhancements stand out at first glance, they boast of multiple benefits. In addition to giving your home a more attractive look among many other units in your neighborhood, these improvements appeal to any potential buyers whenever you decide to sell your home.

Get Professionals to Help You Out

While the DIY approach can work in some cases, that is not always an ideal solution. For instance, if you try to lift your furniture by yourself, you can end up with significant injuries. Similarly, if you try to paint your home all alone, it can end up in a haphazard job.

That’s why hiring an affordable moving service or a professional house painter is a great idea in these cases. This also applies to other professionals, such as kitchen contractors and pool designers. Getting help from these experts may seem like a large expense at first. But it actually saves you a lot of funds in the long run.

For instance, if you end up damaging your property or furniture with DIY efforts, associated repair costs can often run twice the expense of the original project. Similarly, refining your DIY work for optimal quality can also cost a pretty penny. On the other hand, seasoned professionals steer clear of damaging activities while also bringing the utmost quality to the table.

Invest in High Quality Supplies


Regardless of the type of project you are undertaking, always make it a point to go after high-quality supplies. From buying a premium kitchen pantry to investing in a new air conditioning unit, these investments deliver long-lasting performance and provide you with optimal value for money.

This ensures that you are able to get the most out of your investment while living in your home. At the same time, following these approaches in certain types of renovations also helps in increasing your home’s marketability. Whether you are investing in kitchen cabinets or bathroom countertops, this approach can work wonders in terms of bringing the desired aesthetic and
durability to your home’s fixtures.

With that being said, high-quality materials don’t always have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can obtain them from various vendors who sell their items at wholesale prices. In some cases, you can find these materials through the help of your hired contractors, who are able to source massive discounts through their industry contacts.

Secure Your Existing Belongings

Securing your existing belongings is one of the most basic points of home projects. But it often gets overlooked due to the general sense of fervor that surrounds renovation or moving plans. In turn, your home improvement may end up leaving scratches, paint marks, and lasting damage on your furniture and fixtures.

Whether you are repainting your living room or rebuilding your kitchen, get some protective supplies for your existing items. Even getting items as basic as a canvas drop cloth can go a long way in terms of protection. Whether you are worried about paint stains or wood chips, these precautionary measures do a great job at protecting your home and assets.

Securing your belongings does not ask much from you in terms of costs or expertise, but there are times where expert advice may help. With that being said, this is one of those instances where DIY efforts can actually work in an effective way. By watching YouTube tutorials or reading text posts online, you can know how to secure certain floors, walls, and fixtures during specific home projects.

Spruce It Up With Some Fresh Greenery

No matter the type of decor you are aiming for, investing in a few plants can always take it up a notch. From uber modern homes to a classic vintage aesthetic, this approach applies to all types of personal statements and styles. In many cases, simply buying a gardenia plant can elevate your surroundings in an instant.

Keeping this in mind, make it a point to invest in relevant plant life that goes in line with the look you need. From hanging plants to outdoor pots, you can choose from a variety of options that fit within your home project’s desired aesthetic and end result. In addition to adding another layer of visuals, it also lets you dress up bare walls or empty spaces that look out of place in an otherwise elaborate space.

If looking after these plants is a problem due to your schedule or lifestyle, you can choose plants that are low-maintenance but stand out as a prominent enhancement to any area. This allows you to get the most out of your efforts without having to go through extensive measures.

By exploring these suggestions, you can start your new home project with proper care and planning. Whether you are revamping your entryway or redoing your bathroom, these tips can ensure a smooth execution of the whole process.

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