How to Be a Responsive Homebuyer

Do you have what it takes to be a responsive homebuyer? Ultimately, your ability to respond to requests from home sellers and others may dictate your homebuying success.

Becoming a responsive homebuyer can be easy – here are three tips to ensure you can do just that.

1. Learn About the Housing Market

A responsive homebuyer understands that he or she has a lot to learn about the housing market. As such, this individual will allocate the necessary time and resources to analyze the real estate sector.

Typically, a responsive homebuyer will perform comprehensive online research. This will help a homebuyer assess a broad range of residences so he or she can tailor a home search accordingly.

Let’s not forget about a responsive homebuyer’s diligence, either.

A responsive homebuyer may work with an expert real estate agent, i.e. a housing market professional who knows what it takes to land a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price. By doing so, this homebuyer can boost his or her chances of streamlining the homebuying process.

2. Be Available

Are you ready to check out houses as soon as they become available? A responsive homebuyer should have no trouble tracking the housing market and staying up to date about new residences. That way, this individual can act quickly if he or she discovers the perfect home.

An informed approach can make a world of difference, and in most cases, separates a responsive homebuyer from an ordinary property buyer.

Usually, a responsive homebuyer will study the housing market closely and track new houses daily. This property buyer also may collaborate with a real estate agent who will keep him or her informed about new houses that become available.

Perhaps most important, a responsive homebuyer will be ready to accept phone calls, emails and texts throughout the homebuying cycle. He or she will even be open to communication with a home seller – something that may help this homebuyer acquire a first-rate house.

3. Offer Positive Responses to Feedback

Although a responsive homebuyer is eager to learn about the real estate sector, he or she won’t pretend to be a housing market expert. In fact, this individual often is happy to receive feedback throughout the homebuying cycle.

A responsive homebuyer may consult with a real estate agent who can offer homebuying recommendations and suggestions. This homebuyer may not always agree with a real estate agent’s advice, but he or she also will listen to everything that a housing market professional has to say.

Becoming a responsive homebuyer may seem like an uphill climb. However, with support from a real estate agent, you may be able to accelerate the process of transforming your homeownership dream into a reality.

Real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide and serve as homebuying guides. These housing market professionals can help homebuyers find residences that they can enjoy for years to come.

Take the next step to become a responsive homebuyer – use these tips, and you can move one step closer to securing your ideal residence.

Pros and Cons of Buying a House When You’re Older

With age can come wisdom, insight and a growing ability to trust your instincts. After you reach your middle age years, you might have learned to stop second guessing your own inner wisdom. You also might have learned how to spot a real benefit from a fake advantage. But, it’s the way you learn to manage money as you age that could make waiting to buy a house a good choice.

Knowing when it’s the right time to buy a house

Even if you put a sizable down payment on a new house, it may take you two to three decades to pay off a mortgage. That’s a lot of time whether you’re just starting out and buying your first house in your early 20s or if you’re a seasoned worker who’s buying her first house in her mid-50s. Factor in rising interests rates,property taxes and inflation, and the costs of a mortgage could feel like too much the older you become.

You might feel like you simply won’t have enough time to afford a house. You might feel like you’ll always be paying the bank a monthly mortgage installment, reducing the chance that you can will your children your house without leaving them in debt.

These are just some of the concerns that buying a house later in life can raise. On the other hand, if you’ve practiced smart money management skills for years,waiting until you’re older to buy a house could help you to secure the best mortgage deal. You may also know exactly what to look for in a good home insurance policy. Choosing the best neighborhood could almost seem natural for you because you’ve had years of experience living in different types of communities.

Pros of waiting to buy a house

Ultimately, the choice on when to buy a house comes down to several factors, each which can impact your life for many years. Included among these factors are:

  • Existing debt – If you’re managed your finances well, by the time you reach your mid-40s or mid-50s, you might have paid off any student loans that you incurred. Other debts that you may have paid off include your auto, furniture and clothing expenses. This could give you more room to take on a mortgage without feeling financially cramped.
  • Happiness – Over time, you could also learn that material items won’t provide you lasting happiness. You could use this knowledge to avoid binge spending and buying products to try to boost your mood or strengthen your ego.
  • Children – If you have children, they may be grown or almost ready to leave the nest. Buying a house in your middle years could eliminate the need to take on a huge mortgage. Instead, you could purchase a house that’s large enough for you and your spouse with a spare bedroom for when your adult children visit.
  • DIY Skills – You may have developed solid DIY skills that can lower the times that you need to pay a contractor to repair a leak, the roof or an appliance at your new house.

Cons of waiting to buy a house

Yet, there are downsides to waiting to buy a house. As previously noted, if you wait until you reach your middle age years to buy a house, you may be responsible for a mortgage well into your senior years. Other downsides to waiting to buy a house include:

  • Health issues – Even if you exercise, drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet, your body could start to show signs of wear and tear. Taking on a mortgage late in life could add stress to your life that you’d be better off without.
  • Grandchildren – Just because you don’t need a large home for your own growing children, doesn’t mean that a small house will work, especially if your adult children start having kids of their own.
  • Retirement – Unless you own your own business and plan to work until you leave this earth or for as long as your health allows, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll retire. This employment shift can cut your income significantly.
  • Curb appeal – It’s easy to mow the lawn and climb up to the roof and clean the gutters when you’re in your 40s, 50s and 60s. However, that could become a chore by the time you reach your 70s or 80s. Of course, you could pay someone to take care of these household tasks. But, that’s also an added expense.

Consider the above factors when you think about buying a house. Also, consider other factors that will potentially impact your finances, health and overall well being over the short and long term. This includes your spending habits, existing financial responsibilities, job security and your ability to generate your own income.

Three Simple Ways to Save for Your Home

House title search fees, mortgage application fees, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, property taxes and homeowners association fees are only a part of the cost of owning a house. There is also the mortgage principal, home appraisal fee, closing costs, home inspection fees and mortgage interest to pay after you buy a house. Facing all of these and other costs takes thought.

Three simple steps to home ownership and lower mortgage payments

By preparing to buy and maintain a house, you could save big over the short and the long term. Get creative and you will see that there are many ways to save for your home. Three simple ways that you can save for your home are to:

  • Open a home savings account. Do this at least two years before you buy a house. Set up an automatic deposit so that money goes into the account each time you receive your payroll check.
  • Use money from your bonus check or tax return to invest in your house down payment. Start doing this early, as soon as you graduate from high school, and you could save several thousand if not tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Work a second job or freelance. Invest all of the earnings from this work into your home savings account. You could sharpen your talents by using these abilities to generate income. For example, if you have design skills, you could start your own web design or marketing design company and use earnings from sales to build a down payment on a house.

Splitting the down payment with another adult you buy a house with is another way to make smart house buys. Hold yourself and other adults who will be living in the house responsible for making their portion of the monthly mortgage. Split house maintenance costs as well.

Get serious about saving money to buy your first house

As soon as you decide to buy a house, start taking steps to save for your home. For example, if you know that you want to buy a house two years after you graduate from college, start saving for a down payment while you’re still in college or as soon as you graduate.

Learn how to build and manage a budget. Depending on how disciplined you are, you might benefit from working with a line item budget. If you live at home, slowly work your way up to saving enough each month to cover the mortgage on the type of house you want to buy.

Do this for two years and you could save a healthy down payment on a house. Focus on what it takes to get your monthly mortgage payments down to where they only require 25% or less of your total net income and you be financially comfortable throughout the home buy and maintenance process.

You might even have enough money to add one or more rooms onto your house, increasing the total value of your property. This single step could position you to yield a profit should you decide to sell your house.

All The Things That You Can Clean With Vinegar

Using harsh chemicals around your home isn’t always the best way to clean. There’s a natural substance that you probably have right in your kitchen that’s perfect to clean the kitchen and every other room of the house. This substance is vinegar. Here, we’ll give you all the ways that you can use vinegar to clean up even the toughest of dirt in and around your home.

Bathroom

You can pour a cup of vinegar right into the toilet. You can let the vinegar sit overnight. If the toilet is really in bad shape, you can add baking soda or borax to use as an abrasive scrubbing agent. Once you scrub, flush, and notice how clean your toilet is! Vinegar is also great for cleaning the drain in the tub. You can also use vinegar straight or diluted for general cleaning around your sink and shower, as vinegar works wonders on soap scum.
One great tip to get rid of hard water is to use vinegar on your shower head. Fill a plastic bag with vinegar and tie it around your shower head so that it is submerged. Let it sit overnight and remove the bag the next morning. Let the water run for a few seconds and you’ll have a much cleaner shower head!

Kitchen

When you’re working with food, why would you want to use toxic chemicals around the kitchen? You can wipe up spills in your fridge with a mix of water and vinegar. You can also use vinegar to clean countertops, cutting boards, your microwave and plastic containers. Just be sure to rinse everything after you use the vinegar for a cleaning job well done.

Bedroom

You can actually use vinegar to disinfect your mattress. Create a mix of rubbing alcohol, vinegar and some tea tree oil. Place in a spray bottle and spray on your mattress to help rid your mattress of dust mites, mildew and other odor causing bacteria. Once it dries, vacuum your mattress and it will be like new.

Wood Furniture and Hardwood Floors

Mix vinegar with olive oil to clean wood. You can add lemon or orange if you’d like a fresh scent. This will help to clean and maintain your wood furniture and floors.

Carpets

While you need to test your carpet for colorfastness, vinegar is a great substance to condition your carpets. You can mix vinegar with an essential oil for scent and spray on the carpet to get rid of dust mites.

Cleaner Laundry
Did you know that you can use vinegar as a fabric softener? By adding a cup of vinegar to the last rinse cycle, your clothes will come out soft and clean.

These green ideas are perfect for your green home. Who knew that something as inexpensive as vinegar could be so versatile?

.

One Method for Staying Organized in Your Home

There’s a cheap office supply product available almost anywhere that can improve your home organization, save you money, and help prevent food-borne illnesses: ordinary stickers.

By stocking up on a variety of blank stickers, you can boost your efficiency around the house, save time, and reduce confusion.

Here are a few examples of how this basic strategy can prevent problems and simplify your life:

  • Leftover food: How many times have you looked at a container or package of leftover food in the refrigerator and wondered if it’s still reasonably fresh and safe to eat? If you label it with the date, you’ll never have to risk getting sick from food that’s been sitting around in the fridge for weeks (or longer). “When in doubt, throw it out” is a good policy for dealing with perishable food items, but you also don’t want to get in the habit of throwing out perfectly good food. Everyone has slightly different standards for how long food should be kept, but when leftovers are not labeled, your only option is to guess how long it’s been there — and that method isn’t too accurate! As a side note, there are several government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that can advise you on recommended refrigeration storage times (and safe temperatures) for different types of food. Generally, it’s three or four days, but it can be more or less, depending on how perishable it is, whether the package has been opened, and if it’s cooked or raw. Frozen food has a much longer shelf life (usually one or two months in the freezer), but if you don’t label it, you may have no idea what it is (“mystery meat?”) or how long it’s been in storage! Clearly labeling refrigerated and frozen food will give you peace of mind, help prevent you from throwing away food prematurely (saving you money), and reduce your chances of getting food-borne illnesses.
  • Old keys: Did you ever stumble upon an old key and wonder which door, suitcase, file cabinet, or car it’s meant for? You can always try it out on different locks, luggage, or vehicles, but it could easily be from a previous residence, an item you no longer own, or a vehicle you traded in years ago. A much more efficient method would be to place the key in a small envelope or zip-lock bag and label it with identifying information. Labeling the tag on the keychain is another option.
  • House paint: Paint cans that have been around for years can often be difficult to identify, especially if the original product label is obscured by paint spills. By adding a descriptive label displaying the date, the room it was used on, and the color, it will be much easier to organize and find the paint you need when you want touch up your walls or baseboards.

While some members of the family may tease you for putting labels on everything, the amount of time, money, and frustration you’ll be saving down the road will be well worth the inconvenience (and the ribbing)!

Tips To Help You Dust Your Home

Dusting is something we all should be doing on a regular basis, but we may dread it. You can make the dusting process a bit easier if you do it on a regular basis. Then, follow a few simple tips to make the entire cleaning process seamless form start to finish.  

To Dust Or Vacuum?

Which came first, the dusting or the vacuuming? It only makes sense to start dusting first, as some dust will fall to the floor as you’re going over everything in your home. You should vacuum up the floor after you have dusted so you don’t need to do double the work. 

Start At The Doorway

No matter what room you start with, the best strategy is for you to start at the doorway of the room and work your way inward. You’ll also want to start high in the room and work your way down. If you have ceiling fans, high beams in the room, or hanging lights, you’ll want to dust those first. Then, dust the tops of items like bookshelves, refrigerators, and other high items in the rooms. Next, you’ll dust countertops, end tables, television stands, and other similar height items. Finally, you’ll dust the baseboards and items closer to the floor. This formula for dusting is for more of a deep clean. You can do less steps on a regular basis in order to surface clean your home without the need for hours of dusting. 

Your Furniture Will Stay In Better Condition 

The more often that you dust and care for your furniture, the better off your furniture will be. Cleaning the furniture often will prevent scratches and blemishes, keeping these pieces from showing visible signs of aging, wear and tear. Deep cleans of your home will really bring back its shine.     

There’s a few key areas of your home that you shouldn’t forget to dust from time to time.  These include:

  • Vents
  • Walls
  • Corners
  • Doors and door frames
  • Moldings
  • Light fixtures

To prevent dust, there are also a few measures that you can take. Some of these ideas includes:

  • Use doormats
  • Change air filters often
  • Brush your pets
  • Keep windows closed

All of these measures can help to keep your home cleaner and allergen-free. We often think of dusting and cleaning the things that are right in front of us. Yet, most often, dust and dirt are hiding in the places we least expect them to be. If we stay on top of cleaning, and do deep cleanings in our homes every so often, we’ll be able to keep dust and dirt away.

It Takes Two to Tango…..

It Takes Two to Tango… or Tangle! What Agents Should Know About Working With Other Agents

by Cathie Ericson



Tango
It takes two to tango… or tangle, and that’s often the case with real estate agents. In almost every transaction, you’ll be working with another real estate professional, and the onus is on you to keep the relationship and transaction cordial, for the client’s sake.
 
Here are some tips from seasoned pros on how to ease agent-to-agent relations. 
 
Don’t take on your clients’ emotions.
 
There’s no question that the home buying and selling process is emotional, no matter which side you’re on, but a real estate agent needs to keep themselves from being caught up in it. 
 
"Typically, when a real estate agent on the other side of a transaction is being difficult, it’s because their client is being difficult," points out REALTOR® Matt O’Neill of Matt O’Neill Real Estate in Charleston, S.C. He has seen agents who feel it is their duty to get just as angry as their client to fight for what they feel their client deserves, but that reaction only serves to make the entire transaction more challenging. 
 
"I’ve learned to set positive expectations with the agent on the front end and talk about working together to have a smooth transaction and a successful close for everyone. I always stress win/win," he says. 
 
Communicate regularly.
 
John Steele of Steele San Diego Homes was recently in a transaction that almost went south because an agent suddenly went dark and wouldn’t communicate over a relatively minor issue that could have been easily dealt with if the agent had been in touch. 
 
"It’s almost shocking how many agents won’t respond to multiple voicemails or emails," he says, adding that has helped him see how being open and available can make a dramatic difference throughout a transaction. 
 
Remember that you’re all human.
 
Philadelphia-area Realtor® Denise Supplee recently worked with an agent who was short, to the point of being condescending. For the sake of her client, she endured some unprofessional behavior, but she spoke up one day when he was downright rude. 
 
"It turns out he was under a lot of pressure with an investor client and hadn’t even realized how he was coming across," she says. When she called him out, his demeanor changed and the transaction continued on a more genial note. "As with any relationship, we need to know when to let things roll and when to speak up," says Supplee. 
 
Remember, you’re all in this together.
 
While some real estate agents may see the rest of the profession as competitors, savvy ones know they’ll get farther if they cooperate. In fact, the most important relationships you develop are with other agents in your selling area, says Doreen Courtright, licensed associate real estate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York City. 
 
Agents will be more accommodating for others who have been easy to work with in the past. "You want to have a reputation as someone who gets deals done and will make the transaction smooth and drama free," she says. 
 

3 Signs That Now Is the Right Time to Buy a Home

Ready to enter the housing market and find your dream residence? Ultimately, there are many signs that indicate now may be the perfect time to buy a house, including:

1. Your family is growing.

If you recently got engaged to the love of your life, tied the knot with that special someone or have kids on the way, now may prove to be an ideal time to buy a house.

A home offers plenty of space, ensuring that you and your entire family can reap the benefits of a superb living space. Plus, many affordable mortgage options are available, making it easy for you to purchase a house without having to worry about breaking your budget.

Before you begin your home search, consult with a real estate agent – you’ll be glad you did! Your real estate agent can help you determine exactly what you’d like to find in a home, ensuring that you can purchase a house that meets or exceeds your expectations.

2. You’ve secured a new job.

Now that you’ve landed your dream job, you may want to consider pursuing your dream house as well.

With a new, high-paying job in hand, you may be better equipped than ever before to make monthly mortgage payments on a residence. Also, you can work with a credit union or bank to secure a mortgage that matches your budget.

Furthermore, if you’ve landed a job that is several hours away from your current location, you may need to relocate. And if you hire an experienced real estate agent, you should have no trouble finding a great residence quickly and effortlessly.

An experienced real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market. As such, he or she can help you narrow your home search and discover the perfect home.

3. You’re ready to make a change.

Are you getting tired of your current neighborhood or living situation? Or, do you want to relocate from a cold-weather climate to a warm-weather region? If you’re ready to make a change in your life, now may be a wonderful time to purchase a house in a new city or town.

Buying a house represents a life-changing decision and should not be taken lightly. However, those who are ready to make a change may want to buy a home in a new city or town so they can settle down and enjoy life in a different part of the country.

For those who are considering a change, meeting with a real estate agent is paramount. Your real estate agent can offer housing market data to ensure that you can secure a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. In addition, your real estate agent can serve as a housing market expert who will be able to answer your homebuying concerns and questions at any time.

Employing a real estate agent can make a world of difference for a homebuyer. Collaborate with a real estate agent today, and you can explore a wide array of homebuying options.

Home Office Ergonomics to Help You Work Better at Home

If you work from home part or all of the time, chances are you have a specific place in your house where you go to work to be free from distraction.

Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the decor of their home office. They decide how much light they want to let in, what they need on their desk, and which distractions to keep out of the room entirely.

Surprisingly few people, however, consider the ergonomics of their home office.

What is ergonomics?

Simply stated, ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in the workplace. When it comes to office work or working at home, that means studying things like posture, desk height, eye strain, and much more.

In this article, we’ll talk about some ways you can improve the ergonomics of your home office to prevent injury and to make your office a more productive and less stressful place to work.

Choosing a desk chair

Let’s begin with one of the most common complaints in offices and home offices around the world: chairs.

You could spend several hundred dollars on an ergonomic office chair. But in reality it only needs to meet a few criteria that you can often find in inexpensive computer chairs. When buying a chair, look for the following:

  • Lower back support what will help you keep a straight spine

  • Adjustable heights for the chair, the backrest, and the arm rests

  • A firm, but comfortable cushion that you won’t slide down on

Picking the right desk

The most important ergonomic factor of a desk is that you can easily fit your legs under it and don’t have to crane over it to write.

Regardless of where you keep your keyboard, it will help if your arms can fall on it naturally and at a close to ninety-degree angle.

Screen height and distance

The vast majority of work performed at home is done with the use of a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

Ideally, the height of your screen should be adjusted so that you can view it straight on, and not have to look down or up at it. This will help protect your neck from strain.

For eye strain, it’s a good idea to keep the monitor a couple feet from your eyes and to adjust the brightness so that it’s easy to read but not too bright.

The best thing you can do to avoid headaches and eye strain is to set reminders for yourself to look away from the screen every twenty minutes or so or get up and go for a walk.

Take more breaks

Speaking of taking breaks; sitting in one position for too long can contribute to muscle and joint pain. If you’re working at home, it should be easy to get up and stretch or move around every half hour or so.

You don’t have to take a long break; even a minute or two is sufficient enough to help take the strain off of your tired eyes and stiff back and neck.