Renting vs. Buying

Deciding whether to rent or buy is quite the major decision. This choice truly does affect your lifestyle and savings as time goes on, so it is very important to do your homework and be prepared when deciding. This post will talk about the pros and cons of each to make the decision a little easier for you.

Home ownership gives you a sense of stability, so if you are a person who gets restless easily or moves quite often, then this is most likely not a good choice for you. If you need to move frequently, and the housing market happens to be down, then it would be much harder to sell your home and you may actually loose money in the process. Now, if one were to rent in this same situation, you would be able to move without penalty every time your lease ends.

A very popular myth is that by renting, you are “throwing away” money each month. This is not true. Living somewhere will always cost money. The cost of a home sometimes can even be higher than the cost to rent. There are some expenses you can avoid if you rent that you cannot if you are buying such as property tax, water and sewer service, trash pickup and many more.

Renting is alot more predictable financially wise because you always know exactly how much you are going to spend per month. When you own, you may just pay your mortgage and bills, but then next month you may have to replace your roof unexpectedly. Renters would not have this unpredictably. Although, renters could have their rent increase without notice every time your lease is up for renewal.

Owning a home can be unpredictable at times over things you cannot control. The neighborhood you live in could decline, a major employer could move out of the area and the population could significantly decline. Tax deductions are not a reason to buy a home because in the end, the tax break decreases as your proportion of your mortgage payment decreases. Deciding which option is best for you goes beyond the money. It is also about comfort and your lifestyle.


For Sale by Owner

Usually buying a house entails buying it through a listing agent, but sometimes the homeowners themselves will list their house. So why would people do this? The main reason is to save money. To prepare yourself to sell your own home, there are a few things you need to do. The first thing is to make sure the outside of your house looks well taken care of and pruned!
The next thing to do is to price your home. You can do this by hiring an appraisal professional, but if you want to save this money, you can do it yourself. This can be done by seeing what other homes that have similarities to your house have been listed for.
Next, you need to ensure you take good photos of your house. Most people shop for houses online, so you will want to make sure you have very eye-catching photos listed. This means they need to be taken with a high-definition camera as well as natural lighting. Time it to where you have the best natural light coming into your house. This will make your house look more appealing to others.
A detailed listing is also a must. The listing needs to stand alone, and draw people in. You can brainstorm ideas by looking at other house listing and see what attract you. If this attracts you, it will most likely attract others.
Once the listing is up, being available is vital. Potential buyers need to see your house, and if you are the one selling it, you are the one everyone will have to go through. A potential buyer should always be able to reach you, whether this is through e-mail, phone or in person. You need to engage these potential buyers and try to convince the to come see your house. Be prepared to work with a potential arrangements for showing the home. If this buyer is coming with their own agent, you’ll most likely have to leave the house during this time.
After all this, you’re not done yet! You’ll still need to know what to do during a closing too. This can be a pretty complex process that entails lots of paperwork. You have to stay on top of this, and to also make sure the buyer is doing the same thing. Selling your home yourself is pretty hard, however it is possible if you put in the time and effort!


When moving into a neighborhood, you may be wondering about the dreaded HOA fees in the back of your head. Well fear not, because this post will tell you all you need to know about HOA fees!

The first and most important thing to do when it comes to HOAs is to research and do your homework! Home owner associations manages the common area and amenities of the neighborhood There are certain documents that have all the HOA information that you should be sure to read before making a decision of moving in. One of the documents is the covenants, conditions and restrictions. This is what all the homeowners in the neighborhood must abide by. These rules can limit you on many things such as maintenance or number of pets.

The HOA budget and financial statements are also very important as well. The budget should include operating expenses, salaries and utilities. Thus, if the budget is small, then you may have to spend extra money or have your dues increase. When you join an HOA, you gain access to their amenities, and this is sometimes what makes it worth it to some people. This is because you are able to enjoy things you would not be able to otherwise such as pools, gyms or tennis courts.

So in short, you need to ensure you do your homework so you won’t be surprised come move in day. Many feel that HOAs and the rules that come with it can be very limiting. Research what these rules are and see if this is something you can or cannot live with.

Lowering Property Tax

With the many things that one needs to remember and consider when buying a house, one things that can be pretty overwhelming is property tax. These taxes can continue even if the mortgage is paid off! Well fear not, read further and you can find out a few tips on how to lessen your property tax.

One thing you can do, which most people do not realize, is to request a copy of your property tax card from the local assessor’s office. This card will inform the homeowner about the tax history of the house. It will let you know the size of the lot, dimensions of the room, the number and types of fixtures in the home and it will include any upgrades that have been done. If there are any discrepancies, then you can tell the tax assessors and have a re-evaluation done.

Any changes structurally to your home will, in the end, increase your tax bill. So, when you are considering adding a new addition to the house, make sure to research how much this will affect your tax payments so you will be prepared. Your local tax department should be able to help you with this.

Unfortunately, tax assessors have a certain amount of subjectivity when it comes to assessing a home. But more often than not, more attractive homes receive a higher assessment. In a nutshell, your property is being compared to your neighbor’s and the urge to improve your property is strong, and this may cost you alot more in the end. Try not to make any cosmetic improvements to your house until after the assessment has been done!

Since you are able to look your own property tax card, this means you can also look at other property tax cards as well. This means you can review other homes and compare and contrast your own home. This can lead to finding mistakes that in the end can lower your own property tax!

When the assessment of your house is being done, don’t let the assessor wander around your home unattended. More often than not, the assessor will only see the new and improved features of the house, and not the things that are out of date. By walking with them, you can point of the old and new things in your home to ensure you receive the fairest evaluation possible.

This all may sound a little overwhelming and impossible. But just make sure to do your homework and due diligence to ensure you are receiving the fairest property tax you can!

Mortgage Lender

When house hunting, there are a lot of different decisions that you need to make. One of the most important and critical decisions you will make would be choosing which lender to work with. There are tons of lenders out there, ready to accept your loan application, however just because they will accept it does not mean they are looking out for your best interest. Since you will be the one left with this mortgage for many years down the road, it is important to find a lender for your specific needs.

There are many benefits of working with a broker, a broker can save you a lot of time by doing a large portion of the work, when it relates to finding lenders. However, keep in mind some of the drawbacks of this. Brokers are able to earn their profits by making deals between you and the lender. The wrong match, could give the broker a high profit, but not the right mortgage for you. So make sure that you do your homework and research as well to make sure that you are getting the best deal for you!

You will also need to find out what type of lender you desire. Do you want to work with a large company, or a small company? Would you want the lender to actually remember your name? This means you might want to go towards a small lender. However, if you want the best interest rate, then a large lender might be a better option. Research, research research!

A broker is not the only way to find a lender. You can also ask friends, family or coworkers and ask about their experience. At least this way, you are asking people you trust and will have your best interest in mind.

Another great option is to ask your real estate agent. A good agent will not limit their recommendations to just their in-house lenders. Use this to your advantage and ensure that the lender you work with is also recommended by your real estate agent as well.

When hearing about a lender, whether this is recommended by a family member or real estate agent, it is important to do a background check as well. Find out what their past clients though of them, and check out the online reviews as well. Try to learn as much as you can, so that you can avoid disasters down the road. This might seem very intimidating, and scary, but just ensure that you are doing as much research as you can to make the right choice for you!

Real Estate Apps

As this is the twenty-first century, phones are becoming more and more part of our daily lives. Some people rely more on their phones than even their computers! So, it’s only fitting that there are some very useful real estate apps that can be download for our phone-savvy customers.

One great app to download is the Trulia app! This is also a website, but the app is also very useful as well. It is available in the Apple app store and is also free. The app has separate sections for rentals and homes to own. It is also possible to use the location-based app to find potential listings near you, or a location of interest. Searches can be narrowed down by the size, year built and square footage. In addition, you can also see which neighborhoods are crime ridden, which is especially great if you have children.

Lovely is another amazing real estate app. This is a location-based app so this makes it much easier to find good places nearby while also taking into consideration your preferences. Once you find some properties that peak your interest, you can also save them and look at them again in the future. This app will also tell you if your furry friends are allowed as well! This app is also a great deal because it is free!

A more unique app to use is called Homesnap. This allows the user to find out more about the place of interest. You can take a photo of the house and it will give you more information about the property and it will even tell you if the property is a good investment or not. You can also see what properties your friends are looking at as well. This is also free, and can be downloaded for the iPhone or Android.

Zillow is of course another great app to use! This app can help you figure out whether or not you can afford the property you want. There is an affordability calculator in the app and will give you the amount you would pay in a monthly mortgage. If you are ready to refinance, you can also use the refinance calculator as well. This is available on Apple app store!

Trulia actually has another great app for users to use as well, it is called Trulia Mortgage. This is similar to the Zillow app. You can input the property price, down payment, your credit score and your zip code and see mortgage rates that are just for you! You can also research loan terms and how much lender fees are before you even call anyone! This app will help you figure out what you can and cannot afford. So try these new apps out, and they can help give you an awesome advantage in find the perfect house for you!

Old vs. New

Real Estate is quite the business and has been around for a long time. Along the way, real estate has changed alot in order to better fit with the current times.

In the twenty-first century, there is a very big difference in the way people search for houses as opposed the the twentieth century. In old times, potential buyers would have to look up properties in the newspaper under the real estate section. Then they would have to narrow down properties of interest and then go to an open house or call their agent and make an appointment. Today, people do most of their searching online, and then when they have a property of interest they contact their agent.

The marketing strategy has also changed over the years as well. It used to be that in order to market a house, people would have to make cold call, go door to door or send mail. Today, people can look in brochures and magazine that are published everywhere. There also were barely any broker or real estate agent that existed previously. This was because the because the selling and buying process was much more simple. The process consisted of the seller and buyer talking and then finalizing the deal. However today, a broker is mandatory. The real estate agent does most of the work, but they get the broker to help them out so the agent does not become overwhelmed. Not so simple anymore!

Loans have changed as well. Back in the day, selling and buying was pretty difficult sometimes because it was not easy to get a bank loan. Today however, it is much, much easier to get a loan from the bank.

How to present an offer has also changed. Back in the day, offers for a house were handwritten on paper and was pretty formal. Today however, offers can be done online and also make sure that the sale is increased and is able to earn a profit.

While the process has changed over the years, some things have not changed. The need to know the market and to understand your client’s needs have not changed. Some things have changed in order to become more effective and faster.

Real Estate Myths

As you go through your home search, you may have heard a few rumors here and there. How can you tell what is the truth and what isn’t? Well this blog post will debunk some real estate myths you may have heard!

One common myth is that all realtors are the same. This isn’t the truth at all. Just like any job position, they may have the same duties, but every agent approaches the job differently. Also, some agents have different skills levels and experience than others. That said, keep this in mind when choosing a realtor. Research their expertise, references and skills to ensure that they work with what you need to be done.

Overpricing your home is another myth. Many people believe that they can overprice their home, but can still sell it because there’s probably one person on Earth that will buy it. However, this is just not true. In modern times, people have access to technology, and can educate themselves. If you overprice your home, then potential buyers will be able to find this out by just a click of a button. If people find out your home is overpriced, then it may sit on the market for a very, very long time.

Another myth is that real estate agents make loads of cash. This isn’t necessarily the case. While real estate agents due earn commissions on houses they sell, this percent is very large. This is because the commission is split with other agents, brokers, vendors or anyone else who helped in selling this house.

There is another myth floating around that Zillow can sell your home. Zillow is not your internet real estate agent. Zillow is more like a website to get ideas from. You can search to find homes around your area, but this isn’t like where you just click a button and buy a home. Zillow is a good place to look for ideas, but working with a professional realtor is the best way to find a home.

One last common myth is that a house does not need to be staged in order to sell it. Do not do this! Staging is crucial to the home selling process. It is crucial for a potential home buyer to imagine themselves in your home. They cannot do this if the house is cluttered with your personal items. They will just feel like a guest in your home in this case. Removing clutter gives them the proper ability to imagine themselves in this home.

Final Walkthrough Tips

Once you have finally bought the house of your dreams, you probably think you are finally done and you can relax….you’re almost right! There’s just the final walk-through left to do. This is something that is arranged with your real estate agent about a week before closing. This is done to make sure that the property’s condition has not changed since your last visit.
When you do a walk-through for the last time, there are a few things to keep in mind. This is not an inspection, as this has already been done. When you go for the final walk-through, make sure to bring your contract with you so you can refer to it whenever necessary. Make sure to turn all light fixtures on and off, and ensure that no fixtures have been removed. Check all major appliances and ensure they work, and the same does with the heat and air conditioning. Make sure to turn on faucets and double check for leaks and flush all toilets. Test the garage door openers and open and close all windows and doors.
Next, make sure that there are no spots or more stains on the ceilings, wall and floors. If there were agreed-upon repairs, inquire on the status of those repairs. You may want to turn on all exhaust fans and garbage disposals as well to ensure they are working. Another thing you will want to do, is to look in the storage areas and make sure all trash or other unwanted items are no longer there. Make sure to do a quick check of the yard too.
This should take around an hour for a good last inspection. Make sure to take your time, you want to ensure that the house is exactly what you expected with no surprises.

Spotting overpriced homes

Searching for a home that’s right for you is a little overwhelming. There are so many different things to think of, and criteria that needs to be met. How is it possible to tell if you may be looking at an overpriced home? There are a few easy ways to find out!
The first thing you can do it to compare what other homes in the area are selling for. This can be done by researching what other neighborhood homes are being sold for and then compare this to the price of the house you are looking at.
Another key thing to look for is to see how many days this house has been on the market. Homes usually sell pretty fast, sometimes days or a week after going to market. If a house has been on the market for a long period of time, this can indicate that it is overpriced.
When looking at this certain home, make sure to look to see if the house is customized and has something unique in it. This may indicate why the price is higher. Some houses may have a tennis court, media room, pool, wet bar or even a bowling alley. This may not appeal to the general public, and may not sell well. Having such amenities also does not necessarily means the home needs to be significantly more expensive than other houses in the area. If you are unsure if the house is overpriced or not, make sure to ask your real estate agent!
Make sure to do your homework! You will want to research the current Real Estate Market, because the current economy has everything to do with the pricing of a home. If the economy is down, then a house can’t be priced as if the economy was doing well. Also, make sure to see if the job creation is moving people to the area you are looking for and what the employment rate is. Job creation and low unemployment indicate that the homes will be higher priced.
Pricing also is determined by the location of the house. If the house is on a main street, near a school or in a low income area this indicate a low price for the house.
Do some research on the house’s history too! If a home has been updated, remodeled, or upgraded then it will be priced higher. Newer appliances, remodeled bathrooms, additional decks will equal a higher valued home. If the case is the opposite, then the price should be lower.
By doing some simple research, you can ensure that the price you are looking at is a reasonable one, or an unreasonable one!