The logistics of buying a home can be complicated for most of us. There is a lot of paperwork and steps we take before we arrive at the closing table and are given the keys to our new kingdom. What many buyers are not aware of is the battle between logic and emotion that is part of the process.
For most of us, the purchase of real estate is the most substantial monetary investment we will make in our life. Given that, we should consider the pros and cons logically and make sure the numbers work before making an offer on any property. However, buying a home is more than values on a spreadsheet, and the reason emotion must play a part in the process.
Home is More Than Wood, Brick, and Stone
A home is a place we celebrate our lives. It’s where we display family heirlooms and treasured mementos. It’s the place we rock our babies, dry their tears, share their laughter, and help them realize their dreams. It’s where memories are born of family gatherings, where we break bread with friends, toast success, and mourn a loss. When we are considering a home’s potential, if our heart is not singing a little song, it may be wise to take a pass.
Every buyer wants to avoid remorse over the long term, and there are ways to achieve that tricky balance between logic and emotion. Working with a professional whose advice...
It May Not Take a Village But It Takes a Team
If you have decided to transition from renter to homeowner, you are probably feeling excited and nervous at the same time. That is perfectly normal because it’s a big decision. Some think it is the litmus test for adulthood. While I’m not sure that is true, I will admit that it means taking on a whole new set of responsibilities. Heck by the time I bought my first house, I was already working in real estate but still had the jitters.
While you may find the home buying journey intimidating, thankfully, it’s not a solo adventure. You are going to have lots of professionals helping you along the way. Some of them you’ll interact with regularly and others you will never meet. Yet they will all be doing their part to get you across the finish line. Let me introduce them to you.
The Real Estate Agent
Your agent will scout out homes for you, pointing out the positives and negatives of each one. Once you have found the property you want to buy, he will do a comparative market analysis so you can decide on your offer. He will prepare the purchase agreement and help with the negotiations between you and the seller.
In a nutshell, your licensed real estate...
Real Estate is a Year-Round Business
Real estate is not a seasonable business. People are relocating for jobs every month of the year. People are moving out of state and into the state. Others may be moving to another city, across town, or down the street. In the process, they are buying and selling homes.
Without a doubt, spring is the prime season for real estate. Buyers come out of hibernation when the first signs cold-weather spring appear. “For Sale” signs pop up on front lawns like mushrooms after a rain shower. That doesn’t mean that because spring is most popular, that you shouldn’t consider the other alternative of buying a home in the colder months.
Winter is the time that many potential buyers would rather hunker down with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate than spend an afternoon sloshing through the wet and cold. You probably prefer to spend a frosty Sunday watching sports or a movie munching your favorite snack. I get that. But I have some solid reasons why you might want to slip into your favorite cold-weather gear and check out some homes for sale.
Winter Sellers Are Serious Sellers
Often people who sell their homes in the winter are responding to job relocation, financial woes, divorce, estate...
Buying Your First Home
Joy. Joy is the first word I think of when I hear the term first-time home buyer. It’s what my wife and I felt moving into our first house. It’s what I always hope my clients feel at closing because buyer remorse has never been on anyone’s bucket list.
The process of buying a house has a lot of moving parts and involves many people. It can be stressful and intimidating even when it’s going well. When the pieces do not fall into place as you expect, it will be frustrating and even overwhelming on occasion.
Over the years, I have shared all those emotions with my clients on their journey to home-ownership. No two experiences are ever the same. However, it becomes glaringly evident that buyers who have the best outcomes are those that are most prepared. Knowledge is power. Here is some of my primo advice if you are buying your first home or even your last.
Make an Appointment with a Mortgage Broker
Before you get serious at looking for a home, you need to know if you qualify for a mortgage and how much the bank will lend you. You will also discuss what type of mortgage will best suit your financial circumstances and how you can receive the best interest rate. Shopping lenders is wise. Some offer better deals and options....
Buyers Be Aware
Forget the spin. Take off the rose-colored glasses too. Let’s be honest. Most buyers hoping to score a home at the lower pricing tiers of the current real estate market, face fierce competition, creating a process fraught with disappointment.
That’s the bad news. But I am by nature a confident guy, a problem solver and a believer in the philosophy that winners never quit. So here is the good news. A buyer with a savvy agent can write an offer that a seller will find hard to refuse.
Be Ready to Act Fast
Desirable properties often have multiple offers a couple of days after hitting the market. There is no margin of error for indecisiveness or being unprepared to make an offer on a hot property as quickly as possible. That means you should not even consider making an offer on a home if you do not have a preapproval letter from an accredited lender.
Don’t Be Coy
In this market, you can feel reasonably confident that if you have fallen in love with a home so have other buyers. The occasion calls for an assertive approach, not a timid one. ...
Look Past the Pretty Package
At times when a buyer looks at a beautifully staged home that fits their criteria, emotions rule. Fall in love with a particular house, and almost immediately, the heart works against our own best interest by suppressing our better judgment. You know what I mean, that little voice inside your head saying, “but what about those battered floors?”
Consider the facts first.
The more you know about a home before making an offer the better. The condition of the home should be a major consideration. Hopefully, unless expensive, unforeseen repairs are part of your plan, you are going to have a professional home inspection as a contingency in the offer. But, before you even make that offer, you can do your preliminary evaluation of the condition of the home yourself.
Don’t set the stage today for financial regrets later.
Now there is no way I am saying that refinishing floors, painting or other minor repairs should be dealbreakers. But if there are too many items that fall on the fix list, added all together they may prove to be a tipping point on the no-sale side or affect the dollar amount of your offer. Even when a home checks off all the needs boxes and many of the nice-to-haves as well, costly repairs can quickly lead to regret.
Look before you leap.
Buying a Home in Today's Market is a Challenge
You are rooted in the trenches in your quest for home ownership. The last property you toured had the kitchen of your dreams, but it is too close to the highway. The retirement condo you saw on the internet has everything on your wish list, but the building doesn’t have an elevator.
A warning to buyers, especially first-timers, in this market, finding everything you want is rare when there are not many homes to choose from, and properties rarely last a week without an accepted offer. Although you agree that compromise is a given, it’s wise to remember that some factors cannot be changed if you discover the deal you made is not working. You don’t get an opportunity to test drive a home.
In a recent survey by Trulia, 51 percent of homeowners have regrets about some aspect of their home. It is a given with the lack of inventory and the stiff competition for homes, circumstances may call for more compromise than you may want from your sacred wish list. There is nothing wrong with being adaptable. However, there are certain things you should never concede if you're going to be among the 49% without buyer’s remorse. ...
It Isn’t a Race – Take Your Time
The decision to buy your first home is a major, life-changing event and should never be taken lightly or made quickly. Not only is it the most significant financial purchase you will likely ever make, but it’s also a commitment to your lifestyle and personal sense of well-being.
Certainly, a home is a valuable asset, but it is much more than a number we see on a financial spreadsheet. It’s our haven. It’s where we plan to raise our children. It’s where we will dream about our future. It’s where we will celebrate our victories and cope with the setbacks of life. There is the whole story of homeownership.
Yes, buying real estate is a big deal, and I won’t lie to you, it can be a stressful and intimidating process, especially for a first-time buyer. However, it isn’t written in stone that it will be this way for everyone. It can and should be an exciting and joy-filled process. Being financially ready is critical in making it work in your favor.
Let’s look at five positive signs that say you may be in the financial position to become a homeowner.
1. Your Finances Are Solid
One thing I know for sure is the passage of time always brings change in its wake. Fashion, food, hairstyles, home décor, and lifestyles have become extremely sensitive to trends. Some embrace change and others fight it. Whichever the case, a constant we can depend on is trends are going to come and go regardless.
Sifting Through The Mount Everest of Home Buyers Advice
Along with changes in style, there is an incredible amount of advice available about what we should hold on to and what we should let go. Real estate is no different, and it is essential that we weed through all the bits and pieces of information and discover what is still meaningful and what no longer serves us when we decide to put a roof over our heads.
Purchasing a house is the most expensive buy of a lifetime for most of us. It is predominately a joyful experience, but a certain amount of stress is inherent in the process, especially for first-time homebuyers. We want to make the right choices, so we look for advice from family, friends and the internet. But with so many tips out there, how do we know which are keepers and which we should ignore? Here are several pieces of home buying advice that have not met the test of time.
You Will Always Be Better Off Owning Than Renting
Can You Recognize a Super Real Estate Agent When You Meet One? Take This Quiz!
You have finally made the big decision to buy a home, and you’re ready to dive headlong into the real estate market! Congratulations! Given today’s market and the great opportunities that abound in the Twin Cities Metro for home ownership, I applaud your decision. But, (and yes there is always a “but,”) before you take the plunge, just like every great athlete needs a coach, or every talented artist needs an agent, you need a Realtor© by your side, advocating for you.
“Why can’t I just advocate for myself?” you say. Great question and I am so glad you asked. An honest and ethical real estate agent will steer you in the right direction, so you don’t waste time spinning your wheels. He will offer expert advice when called for, even if it might not be what you want to hear, and will put your best interest at the forefront of any transaction. Not only will he protect your interests, but also limit your liabilities and even save you money.
“Wow,” you say, “having an agent will give me an edge! I want one, but, with all those agents out there,...
The Fall Home Buying Puzzle
With summer in the rearview mirror, the fall home buying season is in full swing. As we move into the last quarter of the year, many disappointed summer home shoppers wonder if they should suspend their search to renew efforts in the spring.
As you ponder the question, you should take into consideration that the fall home buying season has some distinct advantages. Instead of taking a break, you may want to stay with the program and intensify your search for a home. Here are some of the perks and rewards you can expect if you decide to stay engaged in the hunt for a home.
Fall Home Buying Means Less Competition
Like most markets, real estate has seasonal adjustments. Fall home buying season is generally less busy than the spring and summer markets. The “must buy a home before school starts” mentality is one reason. Another is that some people do not want to move in the winter months.
Those who have no school-age kiddos or are more flexible about their moving timetable can take advantage of that market slowdown. They will find less competition for homes and less chance of getting...
So You Want To Buy a Home
Taking the step from renting to homeownership is a life-altering event. Many people consider it the litmus test for adulthood. It is both thrilling and scary at the same time. It should be because not only is owning a home in itself a significant responsibility but it is the most significant purchase the majority of people will make in their lifetime. Owning a home is also a source of pride, of achievement, and for millions, still an essential component of the American Dream.
If owning a home is on your bucket list, perhaps you are waiting for the right time. The question is, how will you know when that is? There is no stock answer. There are many factors to consider, both pro and con on the subject of buying a home. For many first time home buyers, money is an obstacle. But that isn’t always the case. Nor should the considerations of when to purchase a house be strictly limited to the financial ability to do so.
There are outstanding advantages that come along with owning a home and there are detriments as well. Let’s take a look at how the pros and the cons balance each other. When we evaluate both and can get to the intersection where rewards offset risks, we will have a clearer picture of how we can proceed.
Is 2018 the Year of the Home?
When you make the transition from renter to owner, you become the recipient of many benefits, both practical ones, and emotional ones as well. For many people, homeownership is an important rite of passage on the highway into adulthood, probably second only to becoming a parent. Why? Because owning a home enables you to assume more control of two very important aspects of your life; your net worth and your personal environment. Most people would find that pretty exciting stuff! Many of us, when we become adults especially, want to have as much control over our lives as possible, or at least feel that we do!
So if 2018 is your year to purchase that downtown Minneapolis loft, starter home in the burbs, or downsize to the townhome you have always dreamed of, we have some great tips we are dying to share with you.
Prepare Your Finances
If you haven’t already done so, contact a mortgage broker or banker and get pre-approved. This is the only way to know for certain how much house you can afford to buy and what amount of cash you will require for ...
Should I Buy a Home This Winter or Wait for Spring?
If you are a Twin Cities’ buyer that missed out on snaring a deal this past spring or summer, you might be asking yourself, your family, your friends and your realtor whether or not you should keep your search ongoing or simply hunker down for the winter months and venture forth again when the forsythia bloom. Maybe you just started the process and are thinking of putting it on hold until the new year arrives or wondering if there is an advantage to staying the course. As a realtor, I can tell you that I am being asked that question from many of my clients, especially the first time buyers.
Because everyone has a story and no personal situation is exactly the same, there is no right or wrong answer. But generally speaking, I tell my buyers that nobody is too cool for thermal underwear in Minnesota. Let’s get some and keep looking for that home. Patience is a virtue and tenacity pays off in the end.
To those just getting started in the process, if you have your pre-approval letter in hand start your search and if not get that preliminary work completed and then press go! Now before...
The Twin Cities Are Filled With Real Estate Stories
Real estate is the story of buying and selling a home. Since I’ve been a Realtor for 14 years I have stories. Most end happily even though there may have been challenges along the way. But, every once in a while something goes wrong. Mistakes that could and should have been avoided happen. The only upside to mistakes is learning from them. Even better is learning from someone else’s mistake. Free advice that another paid for is like earning bonus miles.
I’m going to share three stories from three buyers who were on the home stretch to close on their dream home and then did something they shouldn’t. They had a signed contract, they had a loan, they had their closing date and all systems were go. And then they did something unthinkable that blew that deal.
Don’t Buy a Car
Alex was ready to stop renting. He was tired of the cost of his tiny apartment going up every year and knew the tight rental market was not going to loosen up anytime soon. Because he had student loans, it took him 2 years to scrimp and save and pay down his debt to a point where he would qualify for a mortgage on a modest condo.
New Construction vs Existing Home
When you bought your charming starter home, it was perfect. As a newly married couple living in the Twin Cities, the 950 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath felt spacious after living in a one bedroom apartment. Now, two children later and you feel like your once spacious home more closely resembles a hobbit hutch and you know it’s time to move up to something larger. Like many young potential buyers in your position, you are facing the conundrum of should you buy another used home or opt for a shiny new one? Should I buy a new construction home or buy an existing home? According to a Zillow survey, 41% of buyers responded to having a preference for a newly constructed home, but as in every incidence when you are at a crossroad, there are pros and cons on both sides of the equation. When you purchase a home, there is never a one size fits all option and depending on lifestyle and priorities one choice, new vs. existing, may be clearly preferable to the other.
Pros of New Home Construction
- Buy or build a new home and you get...
Buying vs Renting in Mpls and St. Paul, MN
Are you currently a renter in the Twin Cities who is thinking about buying a home but still apprehensive about making that move? A home is the single largest purchase you will probably make in your life and I applaud you for your careful consideration, that’s a good thing. In addition, maintaining a house is a large responsibility and you need to determine if you are ready to take that on. If cutting the lawn and cleaning the gutters is more than you want to deal with, perhaps a condo or townhouse is a good option for you. Let's take a look at a few good reasons which might make you decide to turn you the renter, into you the proud home owner!
Downside of Renting in The Twin Cities, MN
Experience has taught me that the quality of your rental experience is largely based on your neighbors above, below and on either side of you. If they are inconsiderate and unmindful that they are living in a community where loud music, unruly children, slammed doors, and late night parties will have a detrimental effect on the peace and sanity of their fellow tenants then you are in for an experience resembling the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. You may be unlucky and rent from an apathetic landlord who is slow to respond to maintenance requests or perhaps one only interested in temporary fixes while you, the tenant deal with recurring plumbing...
The difference between a Condo, Single Family, and Townhome in Mpls, MN
You, the first time home buyer have now been through the preapproval process and know how much the lender is willing to give you for a mortgage and at what rate. You also know how much of a down payment you need and your approximate closing costs. You know how you will pay for your home. Check!
You, the first time home buyer know the current Twin Cities real estate market favors the seller and competition for homes is keen at your price range. Knowledge is power and you feel confident that you will move quickly when you find “the one” because you have done the work and are fully prepared. You know how to maneuver through the Twin Cities real estate market. Check!
You the first time home buyer feel confident and prepared because you have a real estate professional at your side for each important step of the home buying journey and will use his experience and knowledge to assist...
Buying Your First Home in MN | How to buy a Home in the Twin Cities
After reading our first post in this series, The First Time Home Buyers Journey – The First Step Begins with 3 Questions, you have answered all of these in the affirmative and are anxious to buy that home! Congratulations on your decision! The enthusiasm is great! Everyone should be excited about buying their first home but let’s take a deep breath and think about the next 3 steps – knowing the market, getting lender approval and selecting a Real Estate Professional.
The Twin Cities Metro Housing Market
First, let me say that as a first time home buyer I have good news for you. Second let me say, I also have some bad news. Let’s start with the good news. Interest rates are the lowest they have been in the last 3 years. Right now, with excellent credit, it is possible to get a rate as low as 3.5 percent. Want to hear more good stuff? You do not have to have a 20 percent down payment. As a matter of fact, with good credit, you may be able to get a conventional mortgage with only 3 percent down. Credit not so good or you still need down payment assistance? FHA might be the way to go. So now for the not as good news.
For anyone purchasing a home under $500,000, the twin cities is a seller’s market. The dynamic causing this is basically far more demand than supply, and the lower the price range the less inventory of housing you will find. According to data published by the ...
The First Time Home Buyers Journey In the Twin Cities Real Estate Market
Spring in The Twin Cities metro is about temperatures rising, flowers blooming, green lawns, residents hitting the biking and walking trails in large numbers and the real estate market in full swing. There are plenty of buyers out there and if you are one that has decided to take the plunge and buy a home I applaud you for beginning the journey towards home ownership. For those of you who have yet to take that first step but are seriously thinking about doing so, I’d like to help.
First let me say I fully understand the decision to transition from renter to owner is not an easy one. The purchase of a home is for most adults the largest financial investment of resources in their lifetime. It’s not a small deal, it’s a big deal and should never be minimized. Not to mention that buying your first home can be a very scary thing, and believe me you don’t have to be a virgin home buyer to get those jitters. There are the practical considerations that need to be explored such as your personal financial situation, market conditions, and future plans. You will also need to ask yourself some hard questions about how much change to your lifestyle in terms of responsibility you are ready to embrace. ...