Open House Tips & Secrets

Most everyone enjoys a good open house, but there’s so much more to the social part of it. They happen to be a powerful tool for buyers, who offer their insights, and help with the decision making process.

Knowing what to look for at an open house will tell you what you want to know about a property. Let’s take a look at what you want to find out when attending an open house.

  1. Structural Challenges – The house might look like your forever and after home, but to a professional eye, the structural challenges could cost you big down the road.

You will want to check for cracks up high, down low, sliding floors, and potential leaking areas. Open all the doors and close them to make sure they function properly. If you want to make an offer on this house, still get an inspection because that’s basically your last line of defense before you buy.

  1. Cosmetic blemishes – Open houses are staged in a way to make the house most appealing. Staging’s can cover up holes, stains, scuffs, and almost anything else you can imagine.

Ask you agent for a private inspection of the house after the open house. This way you can see what the house would look like on an average day, not on their Sunday best.

  1. The neighbors and neighborhood – People and houses are sometimes two different things come day and night. Open houses are scheduled for prime time. The neighbors and neighborhood could come alive at night with parties, and a bunch of shenanigans at a different point in the day or night. Try driving through the neighborhood at night to see what the community is like at night.
  2. Home insurance history – If this home has a history of insurance claims, head for the hills. You won’t find this information at an open house, but you can find it by asking your agent to get a “CLUE” “comprehensive loss underwriting exchange”. This report is a five...

My home passed the Inspection, so it’s Perfect!

A home inspector’s job is to find all the cracks in the foundation, and wood rot. Even the best inspector sometimes doesn’t find the problems that quietly sit behind your walls. Home inspectors sole purpose is to find the material problems within a house that will devalue the property which can also make it unsafe. They are there to make sure your home is safe and is a good investment at the same time. But let’s take a look at some defects that can go unnoticed.

HVAC deficiencies

When you have issues with your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, it’s never fun. Home inspectors often miss these because they are hesitant to run these systems in extreme heat or cold because they don’t want to run the risk of overusing it.

If there are issues with your system then the best move is to get a licensed HVAC specialist to take a look at it.

Water damages

In an inspection the inspector will run your faucets, but it will take a few days before leaks begin to reappear if the house hasn’t been lived in for a while. Even if the previous owners had water issues, they can be easily hidden by paint or furniture. There’s also a good chance the inspector won’t find the leak if it is coming from the roof. Even if they go up on the roof, they’re still difficult to detect.

Environmental toxins

If your home was built pre-1978 there’s a good chance it has some environmental hazards lurking in the walls like lead paint, and abnormally high radon levels. You should invest in specialized home testing kits to check the status of your home. Radon can be in any home despite the age, foundation type, or location of the heating system. Most home inspectors won’t test for this type of thing.

If you know there...

7 Ways to Negotiate Like a Champ

Whenever you are trying to buy or rent it often feels like the seller or landlord holds all the power. In reality, sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. You have a power move in your pocket, but it all depends on how you use it.

No matter what you want out of a deal, better upgrades for your rental, or a lower price for your home, if you play your cards right, you can end up getting the deal you want, and it becomes a win win for both parties.

Here are seven tips to learn how to bargain.

  1. Offer to sign a long-term lease

Have you finally found the right apartment, and are determined to move in, only to find out the rent is out of your reach? Don’t give up just yet.

One thing landlords are not fond of is vacancies. When they have no tenants, they have no cash flow. Renting in a super hot market does give them the upper hand, and they’ll pass you over if you don’t agree to their terms. However, if you offer to sign a two year lease vs. one year, you can re-negotiate the rent and probably get them to come down a bit.

  1. The quick close is your friend


Time is money in a bidding war. Not everyone has the cash to pay for a house, but if you can, have become that much more attractive. This is especially true if the seller has already bought a home and is moving soon. Make sure the bank can put your loan together in good time, and then offer a short closing period to sweeten your deal.


  1. Procrastinate

We’ve heard our whole lives not to procrastinate, but once in a blue moon procrastinating can be your friend.

Waiting until the last minute to talk about rent negotiations, you can likely save some money for both of you. If you do this six months into the lease, the landlord might get suspicious of you trying to break the lease. And this could cause major problems. Most landlords would happily avoid drawing up a new lease,...

Be Weary of Mortgage Acceleration Scams

If you’ve got a mortgage and are trying to pay it down as quickly as possible, then you’ve probably heard of mortgage accelerators. These are designed to help you pay off your mortgage in less time than it would normally take you. It helps you save money long-term on interest payments.

There’s obviously motivation to shorten the length of your mortgage, but there is great reason to be extra cautious when dealing with one of these companies. Sometimes they are too good to be true.

 How do mortgage accelerators work?

Both kinds of mortgage accelerators are designed to assist you to budget your finances.

One of the kinds of mortgage accelerators asks the borrower to send the accelerator company money, and this company will send checks biweekly to your mortgage lender. Usually this product has an initiation fee of around roughly $300, as well as a low monthly fee, which is less than $10. Biweekly payments help you tackle your mortgage debt quickly, but this isn’t sometime you can’t do on your own.

The second type of accelerator deposits your paychecks into a specific account and acts as a line of credit. As the months go by, your payments draw against this balance, and whatever is left at the end of the month goes towards your mortgage.

Here’s the deal though: a good number of these accelerator companies have very high upfront costs for the software, which is used to manage your cash flow. While having to pay interest against the line of credit whenever you draw against it, if you use this to pay down your mortgage, chances are you are paying more in interest to this company than you would the actual interest for the mortgage itself.

Instead of paying for a service to help you budget from one loan to the next, you can find the same help through different budgeting tricks. You can design a whole new plan on your own that won’t cost a...

What to do When the Appraisal is Less Than What's Offered

If you appraisal was way lower than you expected, don’t worry. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, and it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Yes it is a defeating feeling when you finally find your dream home, get an offer accepted, and then, the house doesn’t appraise for the agreed-upon price.

It can infuriate you when the deal falls apart because of the appraisal, but just relax. This happens more than anyone likes to admit, but sometimes corners are cut to make the deal happen.

If the appraisal is less than your offering, you will probably need to come up with more cash, but this isn’t your only option.

Look over the appraisal contingency clause: Most appraisals have built in contingency clauses, meaning you can look at the situation and possibly renegotiate. I am not saying this will save the deal, but it’s very possible you could spend more money than planned or even walk away from it all.

Sometimes it’s necessary that all parties need to stick together and find a mutual deal. Sellers might need to come down on their price; you pay the closing costs, and agents lose a little commission, but the deal will still go through.

Get a second opinion: Maybe the appraisal needs a second opinion and needs to be redone. The appraiser should review your appeal, and counter by explaining why they didn’t use comparable sales that the lender sent. Sometimes the seller will pay for the second appraisal to keep the deal alive. The lender might even be willing to pay for the second appraisal.

In order to avoid a low appraisal, make sure you tell the appraiser why you made the offer you did. This is where the agent should meet the appraiser and show them comparable sales and listings.  

Try not to pay more than the appraised value: Do not get emotionally attached to this house even if it is your dream home. Distance yourself incase this falls through leaving you hurt and sore. Don’t pay...

6 Signs Your Real estate Agent Is Secretly a Fairy Godparent

If your real estate agent can somehow make problems disappear, then you know you have the right agent. In the real estate world, there are agents who are great, and agents who are not-so-great. For the great ones who can make your problems disappear, you wonder how they did it with just a snap of their fingers.

If you suspect something smells funny, here are the signs your agent might be a fairy godparent.

  1. They can cast a spell

Negotiating is a form of art, and the negotiator is the artist. If your agent does more than just talk, speaking in magic tongues, count yourself the lucky one. Even the most seemingly hopeless real estate agent can be saved by the gift of gab. They are able to make everyone a winner, leading the conversation along just as they planned.

  1. They have a bag of magic tricks

Superstar agents spend their time with other superstar agents. When buying a house, the inspection is a vital part. Some agents work solely with veteran inspectors who have infared cameras (no lie). This camera is a game changer for multiple reasons. It can read the difference in temperature, telling which parts of a room have moisture and insulation issues. A room with a fresh layer of paint appears perfect on the surface, but could potentially be holding issues underneath. So now you are left with a choice, walk away, or request your agent cast their spell.

  1. They have secret skills

Maybe you get lucky and have an agent who is also an interior decorator. If they are a superstar they will rearrange your for-sale home, leaving it much better than before. They will know the perfect color for your wall, matching it to your furniture. If they choose to help you out (they should), all their effort will be done timely, and without much effort at all.

  1. They can make things vanish and appear             

 A superstar agent has...

How to Avoid Those 'Gotcha' HOA Scenarios

If you are looking to buy a home in an area that as community amenities, swimming pool, tennis courts, hiking trails, etc. you will be paying for them whether you use them or not. If you handle this area correctly, HOAs can preserve the value of your home. On the other hand, dealing with them can be a difficult task in itself. Here are six ways to avoid these pitfalls.

It all depends on the family, but love-hate relationships are common with their HOA. There can be benefits as well as negatives as well. Make sure you know how to make the HOA work for you, or else avoid buying into a neighborhood that has one.

Here are some possible “gotcha” moments you should consider when selling or buying a home with an HOA.

  1. 1.       An investor’s “gotcha”: Renting is against HOA rules

 Some neighborhoods limit the amount of homes that can be rented out, while they expect the houses to be used by families and kept up with. When you are dealing with an HOA neighborhood, make sure there are no restrictions on how many homes can be rentals.

If you do choose to buy a property in an HOA neighborhood, be sure to find out what covenants, conditions, and restrictions they have. If the HOA doesn’t allow rentals in the property you bought and intend to rent, you could be up the creek without a paddle.

 2.       The lender “gotcha”: The HOA has financial difficulties

If you are trying to sell your property, you should know if the HOA is solvent. It may not have enough cash reserves to cover common-area repairs and upkeep, and then the lender won’t approve of a new mortgage.

Know if there is an ongoing litigation, because if there is, getting a lender to approve a loan will be quite difficult. Also ask if they have adequate insurance. Most lenders won’t approve a loan unless the HOA has enough...

How to Handle Snide Remarks About Your Home

There’s little that is less defeating than hearing snide comments or criticisms against your home, the one you are trying to sell. But the best revenge against it is to use their feedback to make your home irresistible for the next open house.

It is never a comforting feeling to put your home up for sale and then have a parade of strangers waltz through offering your home up for brutal criticisms. They will probably even attack your taste of décor and your tidiness of your closets.

Some comments are directed to pierce the heart, while others are backhanded compliments. Some people might say, “I wish I could care less about cleaning like these people”, or “This place could be great with a little more effort put into it.” While the best one, “How quaint” is just like saying “bless his/her heart.”

To emotionally distance yourself from your home will help, but let’s figure out a way to constructively use this feedback. Let’s use it to motivate you to sell your home at the best price.

View the comment pragmatically

Leave your emotions at the door and find the comments that could help sell your home. When a neighbor recommends using bold colors, but insists on playing it safe, this is something you want to listen to. Potential buyers might have the same reaction. Remember, you aren’t painting to please your eyes; you are picking colors to appeal to buyers. The goal here is to give buyers the idea of a blank canvas. This way the buyer doesn’t have to do much work (which is a factor, believe it or not) but it also helps them visualize living in your home. These are some giant and important steps in getting them to make an offer.

Don’t take the comments personally, put them to good use

The most hurtful comment can be one about cleanliness. Everyone can understand why that comment might depress you, but don’t let it. We all practice a certain level...

5 Money Hacks for Your Next Move

 Moving isn’t cheap, so use these steps and you won’t overspend during the process. There are security deposits, down payments, and insurance costs for the move.  All these costs stack up even before the first month’s mortgage payment, or rent check.

 The last item on your budget is the actual move. The average cost of moving in-state (according to the American Moving & Storage Association) is roughly $1,170, while moving out-of-state can be as much as $5,630. It’s best to cut these costs where you can, so here are a few hacks to help you do that.

 Don’t schlep unwanted goods - Something about a new home makes us want to fill it up with stuff as quickly as possible. Even if we don’t really plan to keep it there for long, we still end up trying to hold on to it. When you are packing up your things and deciding what to bring with you and what to leave behind, use the general rule: if you haven’t used it in the past three years, and don’t plan to, leave it behind. The best way to get rid of these types of goods is through yard sale; maybe even donate it if it is in decent condition.

  1. Get friends to help – No amount of free beer is enough to help a friend move. Moving sucks and you know it. Beer should be considered a bonus and not payment. A good way to repay them is through an equally significant time, or skill commitment. Something like babysitting their kids/pets or helping them hang a piece of furniture or something similar.
  2. Don’t buy general moving supplies – Now is when it’s okay to raid your office for packing peanuts. Look through the recycle bins in your building for old news papers and anything you could use during a move. Ask your local liquor stores for boxes. There’s no reason to pay $2+ for containers of materials that were supposed to be used once.
  3. Pack everything before moving day – Moving companies charge for the time spent from the start...

How to Supercharge Your House Hunt

How many full weekends have you and your partner spent house hunting? Full blown weekends shouldn’t be spent house hunting. Get your Sundays back and speed up the process.


Every potential buyer approaches an open house differently.  Some offer a rich look-loo experience at the beginning of the hunt. This will allow you learn just what sort of place you are looking for, and at what price. It also is good for the first-time-homebuyer. They start to see what online photos actually turn into.

On the other hand, experienced buyers use open houses to meet with their agent. It’s way easier to tour a large number of homes with your agent over a weekend instead of making appointments for every single listing agent. Whether you are a first-time-homebuyer, or an experienced veteran, here’s how to expedite the open-house tours.


  1. 1.       Do your homework:  the first idea you will probably have is to just get in your car and drive around looking for signs. This is just down-right a waste of time and energy. It’s time to make a power-packed open house tour.

Trulia has an app that you can see a bird’s-eye view of properties for sale, their listed price, and the open-house schedule. Tap on the flag to see photos of the house and the details. Tap on the house image again and you’ll see relevant states and even more pictures.

If a home isn’t meeting all the criteria, cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for saving some serious time. If a house is in the running for a purchase, add it to your calendar right from the app.

Are you tired of driving around a neighborhood wondering if it’s the right one for you? Always wondering where the post office is, where’s the grocery store?  Once again the Trulia app can do all that for you. A simple iPhone map can do it as well.

  1. 2.      ...

Break Out of Debt and Settle Your Finances

This article is to help you find a way to simplify your system to pay down your debt and let your money do its thing.

Winter is a season in which things begin to build, whether its dust, grime, or your monthly budget expenses. It may appear that repainting your kitchen is more entertaining than looking at your finances, you will be happier in the end you chose to look at your finances. Here’s how to get started.


  • Take advantage of a free credit report

It’s never a bad time to take your free credit report to learn where you stand. Whether you know you have a few marks, or whether you know it is perfect.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, all three major credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) have to give you one free credit report each year, but only when requested. This will not state your credit score, but will show you a glimpse of what a lender will see when they look at your profile. They can see delinquent accounts, bankruptcy filings, lines of credit, and your payment history. 

These credit agencies get their reports on you from different places, so not all reports will be the same. Review each one thoroughly so all the information is correct. If there is a problem, follow the guidelines for a proper appeal.

  • Eliminate unnecessary expenses

Did you sign up for a magazine subscription a few years ago and put the magazines out for decoration only? Do you pay for cable but only watch it once a month?

Budgets can become inflated through time when we become accustomed to spending in unnecessary places. Check your monthly spending report for these invisible money pits, and start cutting accordingly.

When was the last time you looked at your car insurance rates? If you sniff around a bit, you could maybe find a comparative rate and drop $50 a month, which is $600 a year!

Look at your cell phone bills, cable, insurance, and if they won’t budge,...

Too Much Property Tax? This Should Fix it

Property taxes are the worst. Not only does greedy Uncle Sam want you to pay income tax, but also taxes on your property. Even though real estate prices have remained relatively flat in most markets, local tax bills are trying to shoot up. So let’s take a look at how to save some money on those taxes.

  1. Look closely at your bill: The first number you will probably look at is the total amount due. This is an important number, but probably not the most important. You really need to look at the rate of taxation, and the assessed value (formulas). These numbers determine your total tax bill.
  2. Confirm that your assessment is current: tax assessments don’t always stay up-to-date. Sometimes they are only updated every few years. If property values have dropped sharply in your neighborhood, and the assessments haven’t changed, you may want to request it be reassessed.
  3. Check for errors: Criteria for assessments vary in location, but are generally based from the fair market value. The fair market value is calculated by a list of traits your home might possess. Make sure the assessment covers everything your home has to offer. Ask your local assessor’s office for a checklist if one is not available. The list will be something close to total square footage, number of rooms, number of outbuildings, etc.
  4. Research how your local government assesses property: To know how these assessments work in your area is gaining a step up in that world. Knowledge is power, so the more you know, the better off you will be. You should know how often these are performed, and how the values are determined. Some properties are assessed on recent sales; with others could be solely replacement value. Knowing how it’s assessed will give you the argument you need to have it assessed the way you’d like.
  5. Compare similar properties: Check your local records and sales on the internet to find the values of similar properties. Talk to your neighbors, and if you find something...

4 Headache Remedies for Renters

No aspiring home owner likes renting. They feel its wasting money, and there can be demanding landlords, and strange neighbors. A number of issues can arise from the moment you sign the lease until the moment you are packed up and moving into the next space.

 There isn’t a solution to every problem for renters. However, there is an action to help with the pains of renting. If any of these problems arise during your stay, use these tips to help alleviate them.

  1. Begin with the basics and insure your belongings: Robberies are not uncommon these days. It isn’t unheard of to come home to a broken window, or the back door wide open. Your safest bet to secure your things is to insure your stuff. Renters insurance is cheap, costing anywhere from $10-$30 per month. This insurance protects your stuff from “out of your control” situations.
  2. Speak up: If a particular apartment is calling your name, but it’s a bit too pricy, try simply asking for a price reduction somehow. Maybe the landlord could take down the price, or wave a fee here and there. Try making some sort of deal with him. Maybe you cut the grass for an additional $30 off per month. The worst they can say is no. Know what’s in the lease before you sign it, this will insure no future headache.
  3.  Find more space and don’t pay for it: Every property only has so much storage space, and sometimes there’s just not enough room for all your belongings. Your best bet is to start getting creative with the way you store things. Don’t go blow an extra $100+ a month on a garage unit. Take a look at Pinterest and see some good ideas for storage on there. Another good plan is to organize all you have, and de-clutter. Once you have only what you need, you’;; stop going out to buy more of it because you know how much of it you have, and where it is.
  4. Stop throwing money down the drain: Most people rent because they cannot afford a home just yet, and many of them feel they...

FHA Loans: Are They Right for You?

With restrictions relaxed for FHA loans, they can be enticing, but look out for their hidden thorns that can cost you over the long run. If you were told there’s a loan out there that is designed to make it easier for you to qualify for financing for your home, you’d probably say, “where do I sign?”

FHA loans were created in the 1930’s by the Federal Housing Administration. What makes them unique is they offer borrowers a better deal than the traditional home loans. They are a better deal because these loans are mortgages insured by the FHA. Before you sign your name (life) away, let’s examine these loans closely and see if they are right for you or not. We’ll see how they work, and the pros and cons that come with it.

Advantages of the FHA loan

FHA loans, simply put, make home ownership more attainable. You are allowed to qualify with a down payment of just 3.5%. Credit scores are also allowed to be low with still reasonable interest rates. Another thing you can do is use gifted money for your down payment. These FHA loans also usually carry a higher debt-to-income ratio than most lenders will accept.

This is enticing because it first-time home buyers and young people who do not have 20% of a down payment, and/or may have less than desirable credit scores.

How FHA loans work

Just like every good deal out there, there’s a catch. Since these loans are insured by the FHA, if the borrower defaults on his loan, the FHA is obligated to pay the bank. A good note to consider is the premiums are quite high so the FHA loan can become rather expensive.

Because the FHA has the monetary obligation (worst-case scenario) the rules are a bit more relaxed than with other type loans. The lenders aren’t the ones at risk, but the government is, and they feel it’s the nice thing to do. What does the government know? They...

Four Tips to Make Your Bedroom Cozy Again

Is your bedroom lacking a certain feeling? Does it just not quite feel cozy enough when you lay down? Well I will give you four easy tips that will help transform your bedroom into the cozy castle it’s meant to be.

Since your room is lacking that specific something in the air, and let’s look around. Dirty socks and undies on the floor, got it. Throw pillows scattered throughout the floor, of course. Nightstand supplied with Kleenex and vitamins instead of candles and body lotions, sad but true. Our bedroom is supposed to be this romantic get-away that we are supposed to believe is the perfect setting. We are also supposed to believe each night our significant other is supposed to be intimate and romantic with us, but chances are they are leaving their dirty undies on your side of the bedroom, hot right? Well I can try to fix this with a few foolproof set of ideas to make your bedroom this cozy bungalow you’ve always wanted.

  1. Mood Lighting: Candles will never let you down, they bring sexy in the atmosphere. They allow you to turn off your lights and crawl back into bed without hurting yourself; not to mention that the minimal light it gives off creates an air of intimacy. You can also purchase the flameless candles. There are many dim lighting options here, some you can even buy to program. There’s a vast selection.
  2. Freshen Up: Wanting to be in the bed is the first step to sexy. Fresh sheets and properly made bed are much more inviting than used sheets with blankets thrown over everything. Concentrate on which fabrics you buy too. Certain fabrics (throw vs. down) gel better with certain seasons. Make sure you have the right blanket for the right touch. A pleasant fragrance never hurts to have in the air either.
  3. Change the Scenery: Put up very thin dark red or navy swath over your blinds. Move all portraits of other people out of the room, and replace them with photos of you and your spouse. Put away your electronics, and if agreed upon, put on a sexy movie you...

How to Nail Your Home Loan Interview

You are saving up for your down payment on your new house, and you’re curious to how much you will qualify for, and what the inspections might say. But one thing you are not anticipating is the home loan interview. This is where I will teach you a few tips to nailing this interview.

They will probably ask you about your housing goals, your financials, budgets, and your credit payment history. It does get rather personal, so be prepared. The following tips will make this interview be much easier for you.

  1. Dress for success – The idea here is to treat this interview like you would a job interview. There’s a certain perception of a person who is dressed nicely vs a [person who looks too casual. If dressing like a boss makes you feel more confident, then by all means dress like a boss. Dressing in a manner that exudes a se5rious commitment to paying a mortgage, your loan officer or broker will surely be willing to help you.
  2. Come prepared – This is a serious matter, so treat is as such. I would not recommend going into this ready to wing it. You will need appropriate preparation for your loan adviser to serve you to the best of their abilities. You will want to bring your past two years tax returns and W2s, most recent pay stubs, and two months of bank statements. What they want to see here is proof of income, good credit, good savings, and so forth. But the credit is the biggest part.
  3. Ask anything, no such thing as a dumb question – Have yourself a list of questions for this interview. The loan officer should answer everything you have, whether it’s about the process, what they need from you, or the timing of the approval.
  4. Respond honestly, and in a timely manner – Once your loan officer asks for the items needed from you, it’s best to get them back as quickly as possible. This helps them get your loan complete. You will be asked for items that seem unrelated and silly, but they’re serious about it....

How To Make One Extra Mortgage Payment This Year

When you owe a significant amount of money, per say on a house, it will take years before you pay it off. It’s like feeding money into a vending machine for months before you finally get your snack. Just because you have a long time to go, doesn’t mean you can’t shorten the time to reach your goal of being debt free. Reaching your goal early can cut down on the time, and saving you some interest as well. So how can you do this? Let’s look at the motivation and then your method.


Give yourself the “why” behind the “how” for amping up your mortgage payment by crunching the numbers. Savings is what you’re essentially looking at. Let’s say you are trying to pay back $150,000 mortgage with a 4% interest rate. You have a 30-year loan, and 2045 is when it will be paid off (on paper). IF you are able to contribute an additional $712 each year, you can expect to pay off this mortgage by 2041. This is a full four years of savings!


  1. Look at your budget - Look at your credit statements, your savings, debts, and your spending to better understand where you stand financially. This will give you clear insight into your spending and savings habits, which will show you how you can alter these habits and put a little more aside for your mortgage.
  2. Set a reasonable goal – Big ambitions become overwhelming pretty quickly. Set a goal you know you can achieve, so if it’s $10 a month, start there. Put that extra savings into your mortgage each month. Once you’ve reached your goal, bump it up a bit!
  3. Automate extra savings – You will always find a reason to divert extra savings somewhere else. Automate these extra savings to your mortgage to avoid the temptation to spend it elsewhere. Your band will have an option to automatically transfer this money into a special account, which you can use...

Making Withdrawing From an Offer Easy

It’s never easy to go back on your word and cancel on a contractual offer. It’s true, life happens, things change, opportunities arise, and we don’t expect some of life’s biggest curve balls. How do these life events relate when it comes to buying real estate?

Every year a ton of home sales fall through. A safe assumption from the buyer’s perspective is you entered the contract with full intentions to purchase the home. As life happens, circumstances change. Since it is your life, you are legally allowed to back out of the contract at any time, but depending on when, you might have to forfeit some money.

There are two main situations when you withdraw from an offer. Here is what to expect from each situation, but there’s one common theme when dealing with both: it is imperative that you need to communicate clearly with your agent every step of the way.

Within a contingency period

Once you and the seller have agreed upon, and signed the contract, the deal is now binding. The standard real estate contract bears many contingencies, meaning that they must be met in order for both parties to proceed. You have agreed to buy the home after a successful inspection, appraisal, receiving financing to buy the home, etc. Once all these are met, the contract takes the next step towards the final transaction.

There’s a catch, if the inspector says the home needs all new piping or a new hardwood floor for example, and for that reason you do not want to buy the home, you are within your rights to cancel the contact and gain your money back.

No one likes to see these deals fall through, but if it has to be, better early in the process than later. This is the cleanest and easiest way to walk away from a contact for both parties.

Outside a contingency period

 Here is where things get a little hairy. If all contingencies are met and everyone is ready to move forwards,  here is where you expect to lose your money if you decide...

Buying in Winter? Things to do to Prepare Yourself

Since we just sold your home in winter, let’s now buy your next home in winter.


It isn’t ideal to buy a home during winter because, let’s face it, winter is a drag and everything about it sucks. Homes are still waiting to be bought though. So don’t underestimate the challenge of buying a home in winter.

Some parents may become desperate at the end of summer to buy a home just to get their kids enrolled in the particular school they want. For this reason winter presents itself in a different light, one with opportunities. Let’s take a look at the five ways in which you can win while you search for your winter home.

  1. Take advantage of the discounts: While fewer homes are on the market during winter, the discounts happen on both ends. Given fewer homes on the market, yields fewer buyers as well, so this lack of demand motivates sellers, which is a tool you can use in your negotiation.
  2. Take a look at rental listings: Summer rentals are quite popular in the northeast, and many owners make a decent living renting their properties out for the entire season, month, or just a weekend. Prices tend to be better for sellers because the winter makes room for more negotiation.

If your goal is to be occupied by Memorial Day, landlords will begin marketing their properties during the winter. Some might even sell if the conditions are right. The point is there are always more homes available than what is publicly listed, and you never truly know what’s for sale until you ask. Rentals are great because they aren’t usually lived in, and they don’t have to worry about moving.


  1. Do your homework: Despite the cold, you can still find the right neighborhood for you and your family. Just look at researching maps with school districts, commute times, and entertainment, dining, and recreation. Once those factors are figured out your search can truly begin.
  2. Beware the winter inspection: Heating and cooling amenities...

Tips to Sell Your Home in the Winter

Everyone knows spring and fall are the traditional prime-time seasons for selling a home, but sometimes life doesn’t go as planned and requires homes to be sold in the winter. One good thing about this is that with the plethora of technology available from your smart-phone selling in mid-winter isn’t all that difficult. The supply of homes on the market will be light to begin with, and buyers will still be looking.  Since you are selling in the winter, buyers will look the other way on the landscape. There are other areas to pay attention to.

Be sure the home is easily accessible- If bad weather happens to hit while your home is on the market be sure to clear the driveway of any snow/ice. Clear off all pathways, sidewalks, and steps. A buyer could pop up at anytime wanting to see the house.

Keep the heat on- Nothing is more off-putting than walking into a cold home. Because it isn’t “inviting” it affects the buyers’ senses. A cold reception will leave the buyer with a negative first impression. Keep the heat on and make sure the house is warm and cozy.

Show off your winter wonders- If you have a fireplace in your house, now is the time to show it off! Everyone loves a real fire inside a real fireplace. It provides an ambiance that is second to none, and a comforting feeling. Ask your agent just to be sure the fire is appropriate during this time. It could also be a nice tough to keep the wood by the fire just for show.

Let buyers see your outside attributes- During warmer months buyers like to step outside on the deck and into the backyard for a look around. They are feeling out what the lot is like, and the scenery. Since buyers will be less likely to do this during the winter, make sure these features (pool, patio, deck, etc.) are visible from the window. If snow happens to be covering these features, be sure to make sure the buyer knows about them. It isn’t a bad idea to have pictures during warmer months incase snow is covering...