10 Tips to Winterize Your Home This January

Winter hasn’t really hit yet in Louisville, so our homes haven’t been affected by the weather much. Winterizing your home is important to keep all your appliances working smoothly and save some major bucks. One of the most important areas to maintain is your furnace. This area may scare some people because they know nothing about it, in which case they can hire a professional to take care of it; or it can be done by the home owner.

Clean and repair air ducts

Having the right tools is over half the battle, and when you’re that far, the rest is not difficult. Get yourself a high powered vacuum and suck out all the dust inside. If you happen to see any breaks in the ducts, seal it with the appropriate material and wrap the area with foil tape.

Clean the furnace

If you can still find your furnace owner’s manual, look how to clean it. The object here is to clean out any dirt and dust in specific parts, and lubricate the parts that move. It’s as simple as that.

Replace the air filter

This one is as easy as it gets. Take out the old air filter every couple months and replace it with a new one (arrow side up) and that’s all you have to do.

There are other areas of your house to take care of during winter besides your furnace. These helpful tips will save you some money on your energy bill.

Add insulation

Most homes lose their heat through the roof. Handy homeowners can easily put a few rolls of insulation up in their attic roof to keep some heat in. Otherwise, a professional can give provide a quote and perhaps even do the work.

Inspect exterior doors and windows

Look at all the caulking...

Bad Habits Homeowners Need to Break For 2017

Well it’s the end of the year again, and you know what that means; time for New Year’s Resolutions! Instead of doing what everyone says they’ll do like lose twenty pounds, or travel more, etc. we are taking a real estate approach.

Throughout the course of a year a home can endure a lot of abuse. The cracked tile, a leaky pipe falling to the ceiling, etc. can eat a chunk out of your finances when it’s time to sell. In order to not lose that money, homeowners need to be responsible and be good to their property by taking on regular maintenance and routine projects to upkeep with the house.

But with time, and breaking a few bad habits, you can save a decent amount of time and money.

“If it’s not broke don’t fix it” – mentality

Completely wrong; all appliances, furnaces, hardwood floors, and paint, need regular maintenance. The exterior of homes need a new paint job every five years even if it doesn’t look like it needs it system filters need to be replaced or cleaned monthly.

What you can do instead is read maintenance instructions whenever you buy or install something new. Household items tend to work best when they are taken care of as instructed by the manufacturer.

 Don’t hang dry cleaning on door knobs

Everyone is guilty of hanging clothes on door handles. Sometimes people go beyond clothes and hang purses, gym bags, and things of the sort. This can actually put a lot of pressure on the door knob and knock it out of alignment. It’s pretty lazy really, and is quite the eyesore. Instead go to your local hardware store and grab a two headed hook to mount on your wall or door for $2.

Wearing shoes inside

Shoes are dirty and they track in all kinds of dust, germs, and...

5 Ways to Make 2017 Better Than 2016

2017 is fast approaching, and the right way to bring in the New Year is with a plan to make it better than the previous year. Here are five steps you can do to get yourself moving towards a better year.


As the holidays are getting near and the amount of stuff you seem to accumulate each year piles up, it begins to shrink your living space. It’s time to get rid of the old stuff you don’t use anymore. The best thing you can do is donate it. For the nicer items, you may try putting them on EBay or Craigslist.

Once they’re gone, you will be glad you now have room for all the new stuff you’ve accumulated throughout the holidays.

Set a date and crew to take down decorations

It took hours to put all the decorations up, and it will take hours to take them down. To make this task go smoothly, pick a date and time to get started, and make sure you have a capable crew (family) to help you.

Make sure the crew knows this will likely be an all-day event, and to set a time for everyone to get started. Designate what each member should do; one could take down the ornaments and Christmas tree, one can take down the outside lights, someone could get all the space ready, etc.

When a daunting task becomes a team effort, it doesn’t become such a hassle, and can be completed in a timely manner.

Set gift budgets

One area we don’t pay much attention to throughout the year is how much we spend on gifts for others. Take a look at what you spent on others this year, and set a budget for yourself for next year. Be sure to consider birthdays, Hallmark Holidays, and the seasonal holidays.

Having this budget will allow you to be a better manager of your money, freeing up cash where it’s better served.


How to Feel at Home Wherever You Are

You can be at home anywhere you are. If you are renting, couch surfing, vacationing, there’s a way to make wherever you are staying, home.

Home is more than having a place to live, it’s a place where you feel safe and comfortable; and surprisingly; a large number of people don’t have that.   Some people rent, some are always on the road traveling, some move around from base to base in the military, some of us hit hard times and have to crash at a relatives or friends for a while, and some even have to move back in with our parents until we can get back up on our feet again.

Until you find enough cash to buy your own home, there is a way to feel at home. We just need to find our creative side and build our home within ourselves.


Many people think their stuff defines who they are. The photos they’ve taken throughout their lives, the 20-year old art piece, and the football trophy from high school, etc. The motto I have found to be quite useful is “less is more” and it has never done me wrong.

It all comes down to what makes you happy. Keeping the things you care about close, and getting rid of the stuff you don’t need. You will find once you de-clutter your life, how much simpler it becomes.

Keep actual pictures

This is an underutilized way of keeping the sense of “you” no matter where you are. Keeping photos of those you love and care about near will always give you that sense of home.

Most of us have our Facebook’s and Instagrams (online versions) of all our photos, but having physical copies of these makes it feel like home. Sure, everything is easier online, but nothing compares to tangible photos.

Enjoy the smell

The smell of home is one-of-a-kind. You recognize...

Open House Questions

Open houses a like seeing the shell of a house, and you never really know what you like until you investigate further. Sure, the beautiful staging, the lovely smell could draw you in, but remember it’s all set up to catch your eye. One needs to see a house based on what it truly is, and the best way to do that is ask pointed questions about each room. This will leave you with a good idea of whether you should submit an offer or not.

The kitchen

It isn’t difficult to tell if the kitchen was recently renovated. Just one look around and you can tell what decade the kitchen has last seen any attention, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask anyway. Go ahead and ask how old all the appliances are and if they are still functioning.  

The living room

The most important thing about the living room is the floor. Everything else in this room will be your furniture and decorations. If it is carpet ask what is underneath. What you’re looking for here is subfloor issues, and nobody wants to deal with that pain. If it is hardwood, you’re probably golden.


No master bedroom is alike, so make sure the furniture you have will fit.  The secondary bedrooms are also a furniture concern, so take that into consideration as well. Ask if they wouldn’t mind if you measured the bedrooms and this should alleviate those concerns.


Take more than a quick look around the bathrooms, as these rooms have potential to create a ton of problems. Ask away about knocking pipes, leaks, dripping sinks, low water pressure, not enough hot water etc. As a buyer don’t shy away from trying out the faucets.

The roof


How to Break Up With An Agent

Everyone knows buying or selling a home is a long process, and it’s quite normal to work with several real estate agents along the way. In any best case scenario, the perfect agent shows up right when you need them to, and the transaction happens smoothly and timely.

As life usually has its way, things don’t always go as planned. It is possible that you don’t get along with your real estate agent and the relationship is painful. It could be from a single factor, or several. Maybe they are working at a different pace than you’d like, or you can’t agree on specific prices or terms.

So what is to be done? IS it alright to separate from the agent? And if so, how do you do it peacefully? It all matters on if you are buying or selling.


Agents make their money at the time of closing by the sellers. They typically split their commission from the buyers’ and sellers agents. Normally as a buyer, you aren’t going to enter into a financial agreement with the agent. Usually, you just shake the agent’s hand pledging you will allow them to be your agent; and your word is good enough.   

An agent works diligently with other agents, studying the market, writing contracts, showing properties, going over paperwork to make sure everything is in line, etc. Yes they make their money at the time of the closing, but all the time they spend up to that point is when they earn it. So if an agent spends all that time working only to be told another agent found the client their dream home, then it would have been a giant waste of time.

So before you give an agent your word they will represent you, make sure they are the hard-working agent you deserve. Ask for references, online reviews, and see what other info you can find about them.

Open houses are great opportunities to meet agents and interview them. Just like any relationship, you won’t...

How to Receive a Gifted Downpayment Correctly

Buying a home is a hefty undertaking and sometimes help coming up with a down payment is necessary. A lot of first time home buyers receive some, if not all, of their down payment as a gift. It can come from parents, relatives, or even very generous family friends.

A good amount of the first time homebuyers are facing circumstances like a stupid amount of student debt which makes saving for a down payment quite difficult. Obtaining a large sum of money like this isn’t as easy as just being handed a lump sum of money.

There’s a way to do it, and doing it right is critical. Avoiding these mistakes will help ensure you do it right.

The down payment needs to be a gift

Your down payment being a gift is absolutely mandatory. If the lender believes you were loaned the money they will believe you must repay it, and factor it into your loan amount. In this case it could affect the amount of your loan and leave you with an amount less than what you wanted.

To prove your gift is a gift you must receive a gift letter from the person who gave you the money. In the letter they need to make clear they do not expect to be repaid for the said amount.

The gift letter is a serious matter. It is possible, but highly doubtful, that the lender follows up and sees you are paying back the “gifted amount”; in which case you could find yourself being subpoenaed. Yeah, that’s pretty serious as lying on a mortgage application is a felony.

Get the down payment in advance

You will have two options when getting help. The first being during the planning stages getting your gifted money then and the second being when you’re ready to buy have the person gifting the money send it right before you walk into the bank’s office.

Either way works, but having it earlier rather than later is always better.


How to Save For A Down Payment and Not Sacrifice Your Lifestyle

Having enough money to put up as a down payment can greatly help you get the mortgage you want. You are more likely to get a better interest rate, make your offer to sellers much more appealing, and even skip out on PMI. The trickiest part of having a sufficient down payment is saving up for it. Saving 20% of a home’s purchase price might seem like an impossible task, and could very well take a long time to do.

Don’t lose your cool though; there are plenty of options to save cash for the home you want. Buying a home is just one item on your plate, so throwing every dollar at your down payment isn’t a good idea. Instead of sacrificing your fun, just look for smaller ways to sacrifice that could have a big impact. Saving 20% is more of a marathon than a sprint. It is possible to save while still enjoying life. Here’s how.

Limit your expenses without your limiting your services

Trimming down your costs is the first place to start when you saving for your down payment. Once you find what you can live without, you can take that money you used to spend and start placing it in your savings. Look at everything you can live without and cut it off immediately.

Find out what services you don’t need, like the subscription to a magazine you have, or maybe even cable; call them up and tell them you can’t afford their services anymore and see if they can come down on their price a bit. If they are unwilling to budge, cancel them, you’ll be fine without them.

Match your savings to your discretionary spending

This method can help you keep on track while spending your money carefully. Each time you go spend money for something you want, take the receipt and transfer that amount of money from your checking into your savings.

The way this works, is you are paying for something you want (not necessarily need) and...

What to Do If You Can't Make Mortgage Payments

A lot of homeowners live paycheck to paycheck, and tomorrow is never promised. There will be times that the month’s finances can get tight, and it’s tempting to skip a payment thinking you can pay it back once you get back on track. Don’t fall for this reasoning, as life will still happen and things can come up, pushing you even further behind.

Being passive to your finances is not a good approach because it can have a major impact on your life. The best thing you can do is be proactive and honest with your creditors.

Being honest

The best thing you can do it help yourself is contact your creditor/lender about a delinquent payment. Write them explaining your hardship, and the reason for your inability to make a payment.

Admitting the fact you cannot make your mortgage payment will serve you better in the long-run than trying to hide it.

Don’t wait too long

Chances are the longer you wait to disclose your financial struggles to your lender, the less lenient they will be with you. Nobody likes someone who is withholding information especially when it comes to business deals, so do yourself the favor and let it be known as soon as you can.  

Educate yourself

If this isn’t your first missed mortgage payment, you need to find loan assistance quickly. There are rules restricting dual tracking that offer such help.

Dual tracking is when a lender forecloses a property while considering a loan modification. The Consumer Financial protection Bureau outlawed this practice during the 120-day period after the default.

This rule protects the homeowner when they go into foreclosure. The only violation you can get yourself in trouble in is if you destroy the property, which will end up with you in a lawsuit.


What to do When Your Neighbor is Selling

The biggest myth in real estate is that your real estate life is over once you finally close and move into your new home. People forget they are constantly surrounded by real estate; and they should be aware of what is happening with that real estate around them at all times. It will continue after closing. Think about the neighbors you have, and what happens when they decide to put their house on the market.

There are several important implications once your neighbor decides to move, read on and find out what you need to know.

Document important disclosure items

Usually a good fence can make a good neighbor. The exception arises when they don’t cooperate and unresolved issues poke their head out once their home goes on the market.

This is typically a property line dispute, or a broken fence. They want to make sure the buyer knows about it. Most states require sellers to disclose this information to potential buyers, but not all areas like this are required.

Be the friendly neighbor and let your new neighbor-to-be know by informing the seller’s agent to anything the new buyer should know.

Look at things differently

The beauty of open houses is they allow buyers to check out a home, as well as let the neighbors check out the listed home.

It’s common for neighbors to check out their own home from their neighbor’s perspective. They might be taking a look at how visible their property is from across the yard, or how their paint job looks.

Know and learn the market in today’s time

A good seller claims and saves their home online, and keeps searching. They do this to keep an eye on the market, see the comparable sales and have a real-time idea of what is happening around them.

Just when you were buying, knowing the area and what...

How Bad Advice Can Ruin Your Home Search

Going through life is not an easy task, and along the way you will receive plenty of advice. You will likely receive advice when you’re having a kid, buying a home, even on which furniture to buy. Much of the time it is unwanted, but that doesn’t change the fact you will still be on the receiving end of it.

No matter what the advice is, when it comes to house hunting advice, it could be the totally wrong bits of info. The trick is to determine which advice is worth listening to, and what is not. Once you know, it’s easier to combine the two to make sense of it all. Here is how you determine which advice to listen to.

Consider the source

Look where the advice is coming from. Is it coming from your professional agent or your brother-in-law across town? The answer is quite clear on whom to listen to.

The perk of the agent is they know the market. They know which neighborhoods are hot, what the average prices are in certain neighborhoods, etc. They have the knowledge because it’s their profession. Eddie from the local diner just knows you have to sink some money in your house to get a little more out of the sale. Do yourself a favor and listen primarily to your hired agent.

Apply it, or don’t

If good advice is used in the wrong context, it could quickly turn into bad advice. The moment you decide the advice you received has ground to stand on, it’s your duty to figure out how that applies to you.

Having an agent is one thing, but to have the right agent is another. It’s important to hire an agent who represents the demographic you are in. if you hire an agent who is use to selling multi-million dollar homes; you have the wrong agent- unless you are buying a multi-million dollar home. The agent must understand your needs to sell you the right house. Communicating that you need a yard because you have...

Winter Months More Affordable than Summer for Buying

For real estate investors or home buyers, the months to invest are usually best in the fall and winter. This is the time of the year when the best deals are available.

Home prices typically surge in the summer months and drop in the fall and winter. Researchers have taken a close look and found this to be true over the past two years in the 50 largest metropolitan areas using data.

June and July are the months where home prices peak, and the supply of homes is at its height.  Along with this stat, this is also when competition for homes is at its highest.

Once fall hits, home prices drop around 3% usually. This correlates to an $8,300 drop in median home prices. During the winter months is when homes have hit their lowest prices. January and February see home prices drop an astonish 8.45% compared to their highest months in June and July.

Statistically, January has the lowest sale prices in 29 of the top 50 metro areas, and February had the cheapest in 19 areas.

Having the freedom to choose when you want to buy a piece of real estate can end up saving you a chunk of cash. The market statistics strongly show there is a better time to buy a home during the calendar year. If you are looking to save some money, the best time to buy is in the fall and winter. Buy in the colder months right before the market heats up again, you could potentially save thousands of dollars.  


What's the Fuss About A Sewer Inspection

One of a homeowner’s worst fears is a giant flood without any idea where it came from.  Toilets can back-up without reason, basements can flood, and it could all be because of a sewer line. In order to prevent a problem like this it’s best to take action before it happens. Homeowners should elect to have a sewer inspection before they buy their home. Here is how these inspections work and how to determine if you should get one yourself.

What is a sewer inspection?
Sewer inspections are made by calling a plumbing company and asking for a contractor to come and weave a camera through the pipes. Real estate agents are good go-to’s if the plumbing company doesn’t have a contractor on hand.

The contractor will use a snake with a camera attached to it and push it through the plumbing lines. They can see if there are any issues like corrosion, or any tree roots that have broken the lines. They also have the ability to see if there are any cracks or breaks in the street sewer lines. Usually if there is a problem from the home to the street it’s for the homeowner to cover, not the city. Hopefully they were smart enough to buy homeowners insurance.

Once the contractor finishes the inspection they can reveal what kind of material the sewer line was made out of, and if it meets today’s standards. Whatever issues may be present is always fair game to involve in the negotiations whether you are buying or selling.

How to know if an inspection is needed

How might you know if you should get an inspection? The sewer lines are rarely part of the home’s overall inspection. IF the home is 20 years or older, you should probably get one. Pipes don’t last forever; they erode or crack with time, and are terribly vulnerable to roots. So if a home has plenty of landscaping, don’t skip out on this inspection.


5 Things Renters Should Know About Owning a Home

Renters who someday want to own their own home need to change the way they live in order to achieve that goal. There are financial changes, lifestyle changes, and new rules that will apply from making the transition.

It’s the duty of an agent to guide them in their transition.

Moving is already one of the most stressful times in people’s lives, but it could be even more for a first-time home owner. An agent’s knowledge and experience is their most cherished resource. Here are some of the things an agent should share with their new clients.

It’s an ever-changing financial investment

Renters are used to seeing their rent fly out the window every month, and even sometimes increasing. Often times they haven’t a clue as to where it goes. They aren’t aware that it goes towards property taxes, insurance, and things like trash pickup. As once-upon-a-time renters become their own landlords, they will become responsible for those types of expenses. Agents should sit down with their clients and talk about the changes that are coming.

It’s important to like your location for the long-haul

Renters can jump around from spot to spot, but when you own a home, you are set. It’s vitally important for a good agent to stress upon their client that location is a huge factor in home ownership. They need to know that their decision on where to live is one of the most important things to consider.

Abide by the new rules

Homeowners probably don’t think about the new rules of home owner’s association. They may not give a second thought to the neighborhood rules, so the more information they get about this the better.

Think like a homeowner

New homeowners may realize their life...

Tips to Bounce Back After a Foreclosure or Short Sale

The recession that began in 2007 affected millions of Americans, and some are still recovering. Millions of homes were foreclosed, short sold, and straight up abandoned. Hope seemed lost for many, but it takes grit and determination to pick your life back up again.

As the economy slowly recovers, interest rates drop, and rents rise, some will be able to jump back into the market. For those of you who were burned by the market last time, here are five tips to jump back in:

Know your options

Waiting those long seven years after filing bankruptcy or settling a foreclosure is no longer required. Fannie Mae so graciously shortened the period to two years wait for homeowners who had justifying circumstances as prolonged income loss, or major medical expenses. She also gave three years after a foreclosure. This is way down from the four to seven it once was.

In order to get a Federal Housing Administration loan after a foreclosure, you must now wait three years, and maybe one with extenuating circumstances.

Stop being bad with money

This one is about self-control. You need to put your energy into eliminating your debt, building your wealth, and break your needless spending habits. Homebuyer’s biggest task is to save for closing costs. Pile up your cash from bonuses, odd jobs, tax refunds, and any extra money you can get your hands on. Set up automatic deposit to your savings account is a great way to grow your down payment funds, and don’t spend it!

Repair your credit

The FHA has a minimum credit score of 580 for maximum financing. There are lenders who loan the minimum, but other lenders require a FICO score of 640 and up. To build your credit score you must pay your bills on time, not take out new loans, and don’t run up your credit card bills. You can also request your...

What's a Loan Modification? How Do I Get One?

Ever heard of a loan modification? It’s basically a lifeline for a homeowner who is at the end of their rope. Some people fall on hard times and have severe difficulty paying their mortgage. A loan modification gives them an alternative option other than foreclosing or selling their home. If they opt for a loan modification they are basically agreeing with the lender to change the terms of the loan.

There are several ways to change a loan. The lender could lower the interest rate, extend the life of the loan, or allow the borrower to skip a couple payments until they have landed the new job they’ve been after, but will add the skipped payments to the principal to pay down the road. This is all of course, circumstantial for the borrower, but the end goal is mostly the same: to financially relive the borrower whose mortgage payments are stressed.

You might be asking why lenders would agree to take less money. Pretty much the banks look at it like they’re keeping their business rather than losing it. Yes loan modifications require specific qualifications too, so don’t be surprised if not everyone gets one.

How to get a modification

If you are considering a loan modification, the best thing to do first is to decide if you absolutely need one or not. If you become desperate to pay your mortgage, chances are you need one.

In seeking a loan modification, you must apply through your current mortgage lender. You will be asked to fill out a Request for Mortgage Assistance form. You will need the following documents:

  • Your monthly mortgage statement
  • Two recent bank statements
  • A letter describing your current hardship and their circumstances
  • A utility bill with your name and address
  • Information about any other mortgages on your home
  • Two most recent federal tax returns
  • Documentation of any benefits you receive (disability, social security,...

Things to Consider in Making a Sweeter Offer

Never underestimate the power of writing an offer letter to a seller. If you finally find the home of your dreams the next step is to write an offer. Here are three tips to make your offer that much more enticing, but don’t hold your breath, they still have to accept it first.

Consider your approach

The listing price isn’t the place to start negotiations. You begin with sitting down with your real estate agent and looking at similar homes and their values in the area. The most accurate prices will be held within the past three months. Knowing the comparable home sales will give you a better idea of a realistic asking price, which helps you shape a more constructive offer based on amenities and location.

Once you know how much you want to offer, you have to decide how you will pay for this home. Will it be cash or financing? If you offer cash you can get it cheaper (sometimes) because traditional mortgages add a ton to the cost. If you are choosing to finance it, but offer to close in less than 30 days, it’s something to consider in your offer price. If you have a good agent, they can float a quick close to the seller and sweeten the deal.

Ask your agent if it’s worth your time to offer a lowball offer. They should know if this is a good or bad idea based on their knowledge of the market and perhaps even previous experience with the listing agent. Sometimes a lowball offer can begin a favorable negotiation, but often times it can derail your plan quite quickly. If you choose to lowball them, be prepared to hear a quick “no”.

Once you are ready to submit your offer, back it up with everything the seller needs to know. You want them to look twice, if not more at your offer. It will benefit you to include the completed paperwork with everything signed properly, and ask for seller concessions that are appropriate for the market.


Pros and Cons Of Buying During Real Estate’s Peak Season

Despite all the data that suggests when you should buy/sell during certain seasons; there are major benefits and disadvantages to buy/sell during peak seasons. Spring is the season in which real estate markets tend to heat up, unless you’re living in the northern most part of the United States. Some markets even begin to heat up for buyers during the end of winter.

Let’s take a look at spring and see the pros and cons of buying during the prime season.

Pro: Much more inventory

Once April arrives the property listings start showing up all over the place. The reason is that homes show better in the spring, as opposed to having fall debris, and snow covering them. Spring brings blooming flowers and sunshine to add to the curb appeal. Sellers psyche tells them they can get out of the house now that the weather is warm out and they become motivated to sell. Success breeds success (usually), and soon-to-be sellers hear about all the bidding wars, and what the house down the street sold for, and decide to get in on the action.

Cons: More competition

As many homes are there are to select from, there are way more buyers out searching for their dream home. Spring will bring a plethora of potential bidders who sat out the previous season, and are ready to jump in the market. Having all these buyers will beget bidding wars, which drives up prices. Having so much demand allows sellers to price their homes higher than what they would if they listed in fall.

Pro: Perfect time for family shopping

Moving the family around is always stressful, but at least in the summer you won’t have to worry about moving in the middle of the school year. In order to move in the summer, you need to start house hunting immediately. Most families prefer to be in their new house before school starts, and a typical home transaction takes anywhere from 60 – 90 days. Get on the trail and find that house!

Con: Stress can lead to bad decisions

If you are feeling...

Why You Shouldn't Borrow From Your 401(k) to Buy a Home

We all know saving for a down payment is no small task, and is often a journey too. You may even be getting excited when house hunting. If you do happen to find a home you absolutely have to have you better have the money to put down immediately. If you don’t have the money, you may be tempted to get it from your 401(k), but ignore this idea as it is a bad one! Don’t rationalize this and say you will pay yourself back; it will end up hurting you down the road.

If you can’t afford to buy a home without your 401(k), you can’t afford to buy a home. This is the biggest reason to avoid drawing from your 401(k). Not only does it take away from your retirement fund, but it’s a ton of added stress. Live within your means, and live like you should. Here are a few reasons to not touch your 401(k) when buying a house.

You will still need those savings down the road

Unlike an IRA withdrawal, you are forced to pay back any amount of money you take out of your company’s 401(k) plan. You could tell yourself that’s great because it’ll keep you honest with yourself. Not so fast, because if you lose or leave your job you could be forced to repay the amount in full within three months. You will also see a 10% fee (hardship withdrawal). If you didn’t have the money to begin with and borrowed from yourself, chances are you won’t have the money then either. Homes are expensive and they don’t just cost what the price tag says. Repairs, taxes, and unexpected troubles will cost you a pretty penny too.

A 401(k) loan can compromise your future wealth

The average 401(k) loan lets you borrow up to 50% of your balance, up to a max of $50,000. Let’s say you do take out the full $50,000, which is growing happily at 7%. If you borrow this in your 40’s, you would have grown that to $193,000 in 20 years. You are much closer...

When Real Estate Lawyers are Helpful

Most of us are always looking for the ways to save money on our real estate properties, whether it’s installing our own floors, or self-help legal documents. The norm of hiring a professional, and often pricey, real estate lawyer is fading. However, sometimes the project at hand is too complex for us laypersons.

Real estate legality can be quite confusing, so there are plenty of instances where professional help is required. Sometimes you can get away without having one, but other times they are actually required to be involved. If you find yourself wondering if this endeavor is too confusing, costly, or stressful, you best find yourself a lawyer just to be safe.

Here are four situations in which you should consult a lawyer.

When it’s mandatory

A number of states mandate a real estate attorney be present during transactions. They are there to prepare the legal documents, and highly frown upon the deal if there isn’t one present; calling it “unauthorized practice of law”.

This phrase derives from the rules of professional conduct that govern attorney practice, and can result in sanctions against an attorney-supervisor for allowing this practiced without oversight. Luckily the states that require attorneys are Delaware, Georgia, New York, North and South Carolina, and not Kentucky. In these states, buyers have the right to choose their own attorney. Realtors, brokers, and lenders aren’t allowed to make a buyer choose a certain attorney.

When it’s complex

The issues typically requiring attorneys due to the complex nature of the deal involve: oil and gas rights, beachfront properties, historical properties, zoning disputes, preserved properties, adverse possession claims, properties subject to an easement, and riparian rights.

If you have any issues regarding these, you will save money by hiring an attorney now...