Our Real Estate blog offers, tips, tricks and advice covering a wide range of topics to help educate buyers and sellers.


July 3, 2018

How Much Does Moving Cost?

Deciding to move can be an exciting time, whether you’re going across town or across the country. And there’s one question pretty much everyone who is thinking about moving asks: How much will it cost to relocate? There are all kinds of moving expenses to keep in mind, including changes in cost of living, balancing two mortgages (or a mortgage and rent) during the transition, and the cost of actually getting all your belongings from point A to point B. Here, Zillow offers some information about average moving expenses to help you make sense of it all.


Estimating moving costs

Roughly half of all people who change residences use professional movers, whether they’re going short or long distances. According to HomeAdvisor, the average costs for a local move is $80 to $100 per hour (less than 100 miles, including two movers and a truck), plus $25 to $50 extra per additional mover, and $2,000 to $5,000 per move within the state and cross country (more than 100 miles), with an additional 50 cents per pound. Of course, prices vary by region and by distance. 


How much does it cost to move across town?

Local moves make up the vast majority of people moving every year. According to Zillow research, 57 percent of home buyers who also sell a home move within the same city, and 86 percent move within the same state. For local moves, you’ll typically pay an hourly rate that includes a truck and the services of two movers. The bigger your home, the longer your move will take. Consider these estimates from HomeAdvisor: 

Size of house

Estimated time of move

Average price range

1-bedroom apartment

3-5 hours


2-bedroom apartment

5-7 hours


3-bedroom house

7-10 hours


4-bedroom house

10+ hours



How far in advance should I book local movers?

Most people move between May and September, so you’ll want to book your movers at least four weeks ahead of time. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the day and time that works best for you, and the more likely you are to get an experienced crew. The least expensive days to move are Monday-Thursday. In the off-season (October-April), you often can book movers with only one to two weeks’ notice. 


How much does it cost to move across the country?

While local movers typically charge by the hour, for a cross-country move you’ll likely be charged based on two key variables: weight and distance. 

• Weight: Before the move, the empty truck is weighed, and your mover should provide you with an “empty weight” receipt. Then, once all your belongings are loaded, they’ll weigh your truck again to help them determine your moving cost. Have no idea how much your belongings weigh? Reputable movers will give you an estimate before you sign on the dotted line, using average weights for homes of your size. For example, the goods inside a 1,000-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment typically weigh about 5,000 pounds. A 2,800-square-foot, four-bedroom home’s furnishings typically weigh in at around 20,500 pounds.

• Distance: The farther a moving company has to transport your belongings, the higher the bill will be. You likely will be charged a per-mile rate in addition to the weight-based charges. Make sure to ask if there are any additional transportation charges, such as fuel or tolls.


How far in advance should I book movers for a long-distance move?

For an interstate or cross-country move, you’ll want to book your movers as early as possible—ideally six to eight weeks before your move.


Typical moving expenses

The moving expenses you incur will vary based on the level of service you’re looking for, no matter what kind of move you’re planning.

• Just a truck rental: In this scenario, you’ll be doing the packing, loading, transportation, unloading and unpacking on your own. Flat per-day rates begin at around $20 per day, depending on the size of the truck, plus charges for gas and mileage. 

• Loading, transportation and unloading: Save your back by doing all the packing and unpacking yourself, but have professional movers do the heavy lifting. For a local move, this service can range from $200 for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,000-plus for a four-bedroom house. 

• Full-service moves: Leave everything to the pros, including wrapping and packing your belongings, loading them, transporting them to your new home and unloading. You’ll just be responsible for unpacking your belongings and getting settled. This type of move usually is used for long-distance moves. Expect to pay roughly $2,000-$5,000 for the transportation, plus about 50 cents per pound, plus $25-$50 per hour, per mover for packing and unpacking help.

• Temporary storage: If your moving dates don’t line up exactly, you may need to temporarily stash your belongings in a storage unit or moving container. Storage facility rates begin at about $50 per month for a small unit, and go up to $300 or $400 for larger units. If you’d like the convenience of a portable storage unit that’s delivered to your home, loaded by you and stored in a warehouse until you’re ready for re-delivery, expect to pay $150-$300 per month, plus delivery and re-delivery costs. 

• Moving supplies: Instead of buying and then recycling boxes, go green and rent hard plastic boxes for your move. Prices begin at about $50 per week for enough boxes to pack a one-bedroom apartment, and up to $200 to pack a large house. Once you’re done, the rental service will pick up the boxes. To save money on cardboard boxes, check your local “buy nothing” group or moving truck rental company, which often have used boxes on hand.


Additional costs of moving

When calculating your relocation budget, make sure to keep these unexpected moving costs in mind:

• A transportation surcharge if the moving company pays workers more for working in metropolitan areas, where labor costs are often higher.

• You may opt to purchase full value protection insurance. Released value protection is typically included by movers at no cost, but the protection is minimal—just 60 cents per pound per article lost or damaged.

• Charges for moving vehicles, including cars, boats and motorcycles. Surcharges for moving large or fragile items—think swing sets, pianos, extra-large furniture or riding lawn mowers.

• Additional charges if the movers have to walk more than 75 feet from door to truck, or if they need to use stairs or an elevator.

• Additional charges if your street is too narrow to accommodate a moving truck and they’ll need to shuttle your belongings with a smaller truck.

• You may find yourself paying unexpected moving costs if there’s a delay in the availability of your new home and the moving company has to place your items in storage.


Moving cost agreements

Any reputable moving company should provide you with a quote before your move, using the industry-standard rate book published by the Household Goods Carrier Bureau, called the Tariff 400-N. There are two main types of moving quotes: Non-binding estimates are the industry standard. They reflect the company’s best guess as to what your final bill will be, but they often can be inaccurate. Whenever possible, opt for not-to-exceed quote. These estimates are quotes where the moving company commits to a maximum price.


Get moving

When it comes to moving, the best way to limit your costs (and to keep your sanity) is to move quickly. The faster you’re out of your old home and into your new home, the less you’ll pay in movers, rented supplies, storage costs, and most importantly, overlapping mortgage payments or rent.

Posted in Buying
June 29, 2018

Five Things You Can Avoid Fixing First When Selling Your Home

Just put your home on the market and realized that it needs work? Many fixes are necessary, including any defects or conditions that affect the intended function or operation of a major house system. Think leaks, built-in appliances that don’t function properly, insect infestations, and imminent safety or environmental hazards. Beyond that, however, it’s up to you. Of course, the nicer your home looks the more money you’ll likely be able to earn when selling it. But not all improvements offer the same return on investment. Here, Realtor.com discusses some fixes that you can pass on without too many repercussions.


1. Cosmetic damage

A smart homebuyer knows how to look beyond scuffed floors, peeling paint and other things that don’t interfere with the function of your home. However, these things do make it look run-down. Cosmetic damage always can be fixed; the things they will be concerned about is whether electrical and plumbing systems are up to grade, and that the utility bills are decent. If the home’s structural issues are sound and the bones are good, then you can let the surface stuff slide.


2. Updating kitchens and bathrooms

Many buyers today actually look forward to remodeling these areas. Plus, with all of the home decor styles there are to choose from today, it’s unrealistic to try and second-guess what they want and to have it there waiting for them. People have different ideas about what a perfect kitchen is or what an ideal bathroom is. Updating these areas is a big risk, and unless you know your exact buyer, it’s better not to guess. The next person will impose their own dreams on the house anyway.


3. Partial fixes

Don’t go halfway if you do decide your kitchen and bathroom are so bad that they’re worth redoing. Unless you can redo an entire kitchen, don’t bother with partial fixes. Older cabinets with brand-new granite countertops only highlight the old.


4. Repainting in trendy colors

Color trends come and go so fast that what might look great today will look dated tomorrow. Even if the colors are totally hip—like bright hues—they still might not appeal to a large number of buyers. So, if you must paint, be sure to keep things neutral. Odds are the buyer is going to paint the house how they like it anyway.


5. Renovating beyond your neighborhood’s norm

If all of the houses on your block are beautifully furnished and landscaped, then it probably is worth it to spend some extra cash on your own. But if your house is the only one on the block with a well-kept rose garden and indoor dog shower, you may not get the return for which you hope. Check out your neighbors’ homes and plan accordingly.

June 25, 2018

Rooms That Might Make Buyers Run, Even If They Love the House

When shopping for a house, the tour could be going fine until you turn a corner and see a room that brings the possibility of living there to a grinding halt. Here Realtor.com lists the common offenders that real estate agents have noted typically make buyers cringe.


The empty room

If other rooms in the home are furnished, then an empty room can sometimes kill a home sale. A room devoid of furniture leaves the buyer wondering what the space can be used for, and any of the room’s imperfections also will stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, extra sitting area or guest bedroom.


The dark room

No one wants to walk into a home and feel like they’re trapped in a dungeon. Even if the rest of the house is flooded with light, one dark room can make an entire house seem dark. For starters, open all the curtains and blinds before showing a home. If the room doesn’t have much light, paint the walls a light color and add a mirror to make it appear larger. Updating the lighting also goes a long way in adding to the brightness of a room. You also might want to put a plant in the room, because plants need light and buyers often realize this.


The gross bathroom

A big offender in this category is carpeted bathrooms. Not only will many home buyers refuse to enter a carpeted bathroom, but they’re more likely to lose focus on the rest of the house after seeing one. Note to sellers—replace bathroom carpeting with tile. Another major turnoff? A tub that’s seen one too many baths. Refinish a tub if that’s the case.


The cluttered playroom

Buyers might get the impression that the current residents aren’t clean if the kid’s playroom looks like a cluttered mess. Home sellers should make it look immaculate. That includes erasing crayon and marker drawings as well as fingerprints on doors, windows and walls.


The run-down kitchen

The state of your kitchen—the epicenter of most homes—can be a big-time deal breaker, especially if it’s too small, has outdated features and appliances, or looks run-down. The problem begins when buyers start calculating how much a remodel is going to cost. A quick fix with a lot of visual bang—that won’t break the bank—is to swap outdated appliances with newer ones that priced to move.


The stuffy formal living room

Rooms that serve no purpose or don’t fit the needs of the homeowners definitely can hurt a house sale. For example, the formal living room once was valued in a home; however, this room serves little purpose today and is more a room to look at than use.


The creepy basement

Spine-chilling cellars definitely can turn away buyers. Think an empty all-cement room with zero windows. De-creep your basement by finding a use for potentially scary windowless rooms (for example, filling what likely was a canning room with charming Mason jars.


The cluttered closet

While a closet is not a room, a lack of storage space is a big deal killer. Try removing at least two-thirds of the clothes in the closets to give the illusion that there’s plenty of space.

Posted in Buying, Selling
Feb. 12, 2018

Selling a House with Fire Damage

Unfortunately, selling a house with fire damage is a situation that many homeowners face. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 358,500 home fires in the U.S. resulted in $6.7 billion in damage from 2011 to 2015. The record-setting California wildfires of late 2017 likely will add to that statistic, with tens of thousands of fire-damaged homes and billions of dollars in insurance claims.


According to Realtor.com, you basically have two options if you want to sell your home after a fire: You can sell it as is or you can repair it. In many cases, selling the home as is might be the easier solution because you don’t have to hire contractors or to manage and live through the process. However, many real estate agents agree that the convenience of not doing the work will cost you when it comes to the selling price. Buyers could expect a big discount if they’re purchasing a fire-damaged property. However, making repairs such as painting, cleanup and curb appeal yourself may get you a 100 percent or greater return on investment and can be done relatively inexpensively.

Posted in Selling
Feb. 5, 2018

The Top Reasons to Purchase a Home in 2018

Predictions for the new year forecast moderate gains in home prices and rising inventory levels, while low unemployment and record levels of consumer confidence mean more buyers are feeling good about their finances. According to Javier Vivas, Realtor.com’s director of economic research, here are some reasons why 2018 is a prime time to jump into the housing market.


1. Rates are rising

After years of record-low interest rates, the Federal Reserve now is making some increases: The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage broke the 4 percent mark this past year. And with economic growth continuing to carry momentum, we should see at least two to four more rate increases throughout 2018. Rates are expected to hit 5 percent by the end of the year. Increases would further constrict affordability, which means the longer you wait the more expensive it will be to buy due to home prices and inflationary pressure.


2. Prices are climbing

Home prices have soared during the past few years, pricing otherwise well-positioned buyers out of high-cost areas. But in 2018, price increases are expected to moderate. Vivas forecasts a home price increase of 3.2 percent year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase. Existing-home sale prices are predicted to increase 2.5 percent year over year. However, this all depends on where you live. Red-hot markets such as San Francisco are predicted to finally lose some steam, while sales numbers and home prices are poised to climb in Southern states such as Texas and Florida, where economic momentum continues and new construction is occurring in the right price points. This means that home prices still will increase, but not at the same pace as they have during the past few years.


3. Inventory levels will increase


An inventory shortage has plagued the U.S. housing market since 2015, forcing some buyers to settle and keeping others out of the buying game entirely. But by fall 2018, the tides will begin to turn, with markets such as Boston, Detroit and Nashville recovering first. The majority of inventory growth will happen in the middle- to upper-tier price point, in the ranges of $350,000 and $750,000 and above $750,000, Vivas predicts. New home construction also is expected to expand. But that will happen slowly, thanks to a constricted labor market, limitations on the amount of lots and available land, tight bank financing for building loans and a run-up in building material prices.

Posted in Buying, Market Forcast
Jan. 29, 2018

How Home Buyers Can Prepare for the Potential American Tax Bill

If you’re looking to buy a home, the new tax overhaul could affect you. Although nothing has yet been finalized or signed into law, there are some moves all homeowners and homebuyers should consider making right now. Here, Trulia offers ways to get yourself in the best situation possible, no matter what the future might hold.


1. Determine if you live in a high tax state

If you live in a high tax state, the new tax code may have a heftier impact on you. To find out if you are in a high tax state, look here (residents of California, New York or Connecticut likely will be impacted the most, depending on the family’s income and size). That’s because all existing homeowners and homebuyers would lose the ability to write off state and local taxes—including property taxes—from their federal taxes. All homeowners would be able to keep deducting their mortgage interest as long as their total itemized deductions are greater than $24,000 and the mortgage balance does not exceed $500,000. Because the new tax bill would eliminate the state and local income taxes or sales tax deductions, you may end up being pushed into a higher bracket. Now is a good time and figure out your new equation. Keep in mind that any property tax payments made during the 2017 calendar year can be deducted from your 2017 taxable income.


2. Begin planning your deductions

The Senate bill nearly doubles the standard deduction from $11,700 to $24,000, meaning fewer high-income people will need to itemize their deductions. A bigger deduction may sound great, but it comes at the potential loss of two big tax benefits: state and local tax deductions and the mortgage-interest deduction (for mortgages higher than $500,000). Again, this comes down to where you live, how big your mortgage is and whether or not you will itemize your taxes. As the plan evolves, you’ll want to watch to see if the final plan eliminates the state and local tax deduction.


3. Consider your next move carefully


Since the financial benefits of buying are shrinking, if you’re a renter, consider renting a little longer. The biggest obstacle for new homebuyers is a down payment, but if the new tax laws help you save money, this could be a good time to save up. In addition, homeowners who are considering turning their primary residence into a rental property in the near future may want to stay put a little while longer. Proposed changes would require homeowners to live in their home for five of the last eight years—instead of the current two out of five years—in order to be excluded from paying capital gains.

Posted in Buying
Jan. 22, 2018

Ten Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Stager


Many real estate experts believe that the secret to selling your home fast and for top dollar is to hire an experienced professional to rearrange your existing furniture or to bring in furniture, accessories and art that will make your house look its best. Of course, staging a home requires an upfront investment, with most professionals charging $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and then $500 to $600 per month, per room. However, staged homes sell on average 88 percent faster and for 20 percent more than non-staged homes, according to industry data. If you’re considering hiring a home stager, start by asking your real estate agent for recommendations. Then meet with each one. Here, Realtor.com suggests 10 questions to ask to help you determine the best home stager for the job.


1. What training have you received?

You certainly don’t need formal training to have a great eye for interior design, but being accredited by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) means that a practitioner is held to certain standards. To become a RESA member, stagers must pass an ethics exam, have home staging business insurance, and have at least one year of staging experience.


2. How many average days were your staged homes on the market last year?

Finding an experienced stager is important, but finding a successful one is paramount. Try to find a stager whose homes sell within 30 days, since that’s usually the point at which listing agents advise clients to make a price reduction.


3. What’s the typical price range of the homes you stage?

You want someone who specializes in staging homes that are similar to yours. For example, you wouldn’t want to hire a stager who specializes in luxury homes if you’re selling a starter home.


4. How do you stay on top of interior design trends?

The stager you hire should be able to explain how he or she keeps up with the furnishings and decor trends that attract buyers. Do they attend conferences? Do they actively preview new listings? Do they network regularly with other stagers and decorators to learn about the latest and the greatest design trends?


5. Can I see photos from your three most recently staged homes?

Asking a stager to see their portfolio might not yield an accurate representation of their work, as they likely will only show you their best work. Looking at stagers’ most recently designed homes will give you a better idea of the quality of their work.


6. What are your rates?

Most stagers charge a monthly fee, but some charge a flat fee per room for the duration of the listing. Obtain quotes so that you can budget appropriately. If you’re tight on cash, consider only staging a few rooms, especially the living room, kitchen and master bedroom—which make the greatest impression on home buyers, according to a recent National Association of Realtors survey.

Be aware that staging costs can vary depending on where you live. If your home is vacant, and you want the entire house staged, prices can range from as little as $975 a month (Indiana) to $5,500 a month (California), according to RESA. If the home has some furniture, you’re looking at between $700 (Iowa) and $4,800 (California) a month for a two-month staging contract.


7. How much time will it take you to stage my home?

Availability may end up being a determining factor in who you hire. If a stager says it’s going to take a week or longer, find out why.


8. Is your business covered by insurance?

There’s a chance your home could get damaged when the stager moves furniture in and out, so make sure the business has insurance to ensure you’re protected. For due diligence, ask to see proof of coverage.


9. What can I tackle myself?

A reliable stager will be honest with you about what projects you can do yourself to save money. For example, if only one room needs a fresh coat of paint, that’s something you can take on. Once hired, a good stager also will offer tips on small things that you can purchase to make your home more inviting, such as candles and fluffy towels for the bathrooms.


10. What style would you recommend for my home?


This is a bit of a trick question, but it’s worth asking. You don’t want to hire someone who has an overly narrow design aesthetic because you’re trying to cast the widest net possible.

Posted in Selling, Staging
Dec. 28, 2017

What 2017 Can Teach You About Buying a House in 2018

If you’re thinking about purchasing a residence in 2018, these highlights from Trulia’s economic research team on 2017’s home-buying trends can help you make the smartest moves in the new year.


In 2017: Most homes were worth less than their pre-recession peak

In May, Trulia data showed that only 34.2 percent of U.S. homes were worth more than their pre-recession peak. The recovery was wildly uneven. In places with strong income growth, such as Denver and San Francisco, a full 98 percent of homes shot past their pre-recession peak prices. But in places with weak income growth, it was a different picture: Fewer than 3 percent of homes in Las Vegas and Tucson, Ariz., had recovered their pre-recession value.


What you can do in 2018

There’s a lot of talk about rising home prices, but the reality is that if you avoid the hot spots, homes still are more affordable than they were before the last housing peak a decade ago. Focus on whether it’s a good time for you personally to buy, and be sure to be prepared if you decide to jump into the market next year.


In 2017…homes were selling quickly

Homes were being snapped up at the fastest clip since Trulia began keeping track in 2012. With homes in short supply, as they were in 2017, buyers tried to gain a competitive edge by bidding up the price and also by closing faster. Back in 2012, 57 percent of homes were still on the market two months after being listed—by June 2017, that number had fallen to 47 percent. The intensity was greatest, of course, in hot markets such as San Jose, Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco and Salt Lake City.


What you can do in 2018

Don’t crack under the pressure of a hot market. Understand all of the steps involved in the search process and in making an offer, so that when you find the right place you’re ready to make your move.


In 2017…house flippers were out in force

Home flipping picked up for the first time in three years, increasing to 6.1 percent of all sales from 5.3 percent in 2015. In January 2017, Trulia’s data showed that the national capital of house flipping was Las Vegas, where 10.5 percent of homes sold had been flipped, followed by Daytona Beach, at 9 percent. 


What you can do in 2018

House flippers, who buy as a short-term investment, tend to drive up prices and intensify bidding. You’re in the majors now. Get into the house-flipping mindset, so you can beat investors at their own game. And always be ready to make your best offer.


In 2017…late summer emerged as the best time to find price cuts

You might think that the best time to find reduced prices on homes for sale would be during the winter off-season, but it turns out that price cuts actually are rarer in December. Reduced prices are most common May through October. Reductions top out just as peak home-buying season is beginning to wane in August, when 13.9 percent of all listings get a price cut.


What you can do in 2018

Don’t be shy about shopping in the busy summer season, but do go in with some solid high-season shopping advice from the professionals.


In 2017…more deals crumbled during closing

As of the beginning of 2017, 4.3 percent of all sales fell apart in escrow. up from 1.4 percent at the end of 2014. Starter home deals are the likeliest to fall through, and Las Vegas is the biggest trouble spot, where 7.6 percent of home sales don’t wind up closing. 


What you can do in 2018

Don’t think of your offer being accepted as the finish line—it’s the starting line. This is go time to complete your contingencies and assemble your closing team. Should something go wrong while you’re in escrow, know exactly what your rights are as a buyer.


In 2017…buyers were second-guessing the size of their house

Trulia’s research in March 2017 showed that less than one-third of homeowners would choose the same size house if they moved in a year, while 37 percent would want a bigger house. Bigger houses aren’t necessarily the solution, however. Sixty percent of people living in homes with more than 2,000 square feet said they would choose a smaller home if they decided to move this year, while only 39 percent said they would go bigger. 


What you can do in 2018

While you’re on the open-house circuit, think beyond what space you need now. Consider how many kids you hope to have and whether aging parents likely will move in at some point.


In 2017…buying still saved money over renting

The cost of buying can be daunting, but Trulia’s 2017 data showed that if you could put 20 percent down and if you stayed in a house for seven years, buying typically would still save you 37 percent over renting.


What you can do in 2018


Take a deep breath, analyze the cost of renting versus buying where you live, and determine whether the time might be right for you to start looking.

Posted in Buying, Market Forcast
Dec. 25, 2017

Six Home-Selling Negotiation Strategies That Could Backfire

Selling your home and think you hold all the cards? You do—sort of. But it’s easy to become overconfident in a seller’s market. Here, Realtor.com offers are six common home-seller negotiation tactics to avoid if you don’t want to sabotage your sale.


1. Starting a bidding war

There’s nothing wrong with fueling a little competition among buyers to get the best deal, but this tactic can easily backfire if you bungle it. Common bidding-war mistakes include:


• Not clearly explaining upfront how you intend to handle multiple offers;

• Giving an offer deadline that is too many days away. Some buyers might not want to wait for you to make a decision, especially if other homes are in contention; and

• Already having a strong offer on the table, but then insisting that all potential buyers come back with their highest and best bid.


There’s no guarantee buyers will play ball and, if that strong offer walks, you’re stuck with lower offers from which to choose. Bottom line: Proceed with caution before turning up the heat on the competition, because you could risk losing out on a dream deal.


2. Haggling over repairs

If the buyer completes an inspection and comes back with a long list of requested repairs, don’t get too tough here; you might send a buyer walking. Sellers should consider how good the overall package is before refusing to do repairs. If the buyer’s offer is high, and the seller tries to negotiate away from legitimate repairs, the buyer may feel the seller is taking advantage of them.


3. Threatening to put your home back on the market

If negotiations aren’t quite going your way, you might be tempted to call the buyer’s bluff. Hey, if they don’t want to ante up, you can always put your home back on the market and find another eager buyer to squeeze. Right? Yes, you might find another taker quickly. But beware of this move; it might not go according to plan. That’s because there’s often a stigma associated with putting a home back on the market, and it might be harder to get buyers to take a second look. Real estate markets also can change quickly from hot to cold, leaving you without all those buyers you were expecting.


4. Being stubborn on the closing date

You’ve decided you’re not going to allow the new people to move in until a certain date, because that’s when the closing date is on your new home. Or, they can’t possibly take possession this spring because your kids are still finishing school. Guess what? Your buyers have scheduling issues of their own, and sellers need to understand that they may have to move twice.


5. Getting greedy over what comes with the house

Planning to take your beautiful custom light fixtures with you? Not so fast. This could cause trouble at the negotiating table. The buyer might get so upset that a fixture they fell in love with is now missing that they won’t buy the home. Avoid this confusion by replacing anything that won’t be staying with the house before you show it. If that’s not possible, be prepared to leave the prized fixture behind, or negotiate a comparable replacement.


6. Refusing to pay closing costs

So, you’re coming down the home stretch and this deal is almost done. Congratulations! But the buyer asked you to cover their closing costs. Before you say no, consider that buyers sometimes roll the amount of those closing costs into their offer. For instance, let’s say your home is listed for $200,000. A buyer might then submit an offer for $204,000, but ask you to cover the $4,000 in closing costs. Some sellers will hold firm at the $204,000 offer and refuse to pay the closing costs because they want this higher price the buyer offered. However, the net is almost identical between a $200,000 offer with no closing costs and $204,000 with $4,000 in seller-paid closing costs. Do the math, keep your ego in check, and put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

Posted in Selling
Dec. 20, 2017

Five First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid

Thinking about buying your first home? Before you can unlock the door to homeownership, you have to face some important challenges along the way—from finding the perfect location to financing your purchase. Here, Bankrate discusses five common mistakes that many first-time homebuyers make and how to avoid them.


1. There’s more to the process than mortgage payments

Many first-time homebuyers decide to buy when they feel ready for a mortgage. But just because they can afford the mortgage payments, that doesn’t mean they can afford to own a home. Property insurance, taxes, homeowner’s association dues, maintenance, and higher electric and water bills are just some of the costs that first-time homebuyers tend to overlook when shopping for a place. Property taxes and insurance also have a tendency to increase every year. So, even if you can afford it now, ask yourself if you’ll be able to afford the higher costs later.


2. Looking for a home first and a loan later

Buying a property doesn’t begin with the home search. It begins with a mortgage prequalification—unless you’re lucky to have enough money to pay cash for your first house. Many first-time homebuyers can be afraid to get prequalified, fearing the lender may tell them they don’t qualify for a mortgage or they qualify for a loan smaller than expected. So, they pick a price range out of the sky and then go look for a house. That’s not how it should be done. Yes, it’s more fun to go look at houses than to sit in a lender’s office where you have to expose your financial situation, but that’s a backward approach. You get preapproved, and then you find a home. That way, you’ll make a financial decision versus an emotional decision.


3. Not getting professional help

New to the home-buying game? You’ll need a reputable real estate agent, a good loan officer or broker, and perhaps a lawyer. It’s not a good idea to venture into this process alone without professional help. Although every rule has its exception, generally, first-time homebuyers should not try to deal directly with the listing agent. If you go to a listing agent, they are only going to show you their listings. You must find a buyer’s agent to help you. If you hire an agent without a referral from friends or family, ask the agent to provide references from previous buyers. The same goes for loan officers or mortgage brokers. It’s crucial to find a professional who will give you truly independent advice, and sometimes that means hiring a lawyer.


4. Using savings on the down payment

One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make is spending all or most of their savings on the down payment and closing costs. Some people scrape all their money together to make the 20 percent down payment so they don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance, but then they are left with no savings at all. Homebuyers who put down 20 percent or more don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance when getting a conventional mortgage. That’s usually translated into substantial savings on the monthly mortgage payment. But it’s not worth the risk of living on the edge. Everyone—especially homeowners—needs to have a rainy-day fund.


5. Getting new loans before the deal is closed


You have prequalified for a loan. You found the house you wanted. The contract is signed and the closing is in 30 days. Don’t celebrate by financing another big purchase. Lenders pull credit reports before the closing to make sure the borrower’s financial situation has not changed since the loan was approved. Any new loans on your credit report can jeopardize the closing. Buyers, especially first-timers, often learn this lesson the hard way. They sign the contract, and then they want to purchase new furniture for the house or a new car.

Posted in Buying