3 Great Ways to Find Furniture without Breaking Your Budget

Nothing can refresh the look of your home like new furniture. But high-quality tables, sofas, and chairs can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re redoing an entire room. While some furniture stores have generous sales, it’s sometimes hard to know the substandard quality of an item until you’ve actually used it for a while. High-quality furniture made with expert craftsmanship is often well outside of the average person’s budget.


The good news is that every day, people offload furniture that is still in great condition. Items that once cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, can be found only a couple of years later for a fraction of that cost. But where do you find these items? When you’re ready to update your home with some new furniture, you should start your search in the below places.

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores are a great place to find that “diamond in the rough.” With a great deal of searching and perhaps some imagination, you can find the perfect piece for your home. Thrift shops are a great way to find a piece that you can redo with a new coat of paint or some exciting fabric. If the experiment fails, you won’t have to worry about ruining a $5,000 piece of furniture. Don’t limit your search to the big chain thrift shops. You’ll likely find that you can find some of the most unique items at small local shops.


Yard and Estate Sales

Every Friday and Saturday morning, bright and early, you’ll find eager shoppers parked in front of houses around your city. If you join in, you’ll likely learn what they’ve learned—some of the best deals are being offered in front yards all over your city. For best results, search sites like Craigslist for garage sales and moving sales in your city and plan your route in advance. If you’re looking for high-end furniture, you may find estate sales are a better resource. Buying can be much more competitive at estate sales but with so much merchandise being sold, you’ll be much more likely to find something that suits your taste.



If you prefer to search for great deals from the comfort of your sofa, Craigslist is a must-use resource. Sometimes items are even put at the curb and listed for free on the site. However, for the best items, you’ll probably have to stop by the ATM and withdraw cash to pay. If you see a great deal on the perfect piece of furniture, contact the person immediately. If possible, ask the seller to meet you in a neutral place but for larger items, you’ll understandably be expected to go inside the person’s home. Take a friend with you and make sure a separate person has the address and time you’ll be meeting with the seller. Always listen to your instincts. If something seems off, decline to meet.


If you’re planning to revamp your home, new furniture is an easy way to make major changes. If you use some imagination and spend some time shopping, you can often find a great deal on a piece of furniture that will provide years of reliable use.

6 Reasons Why a Mortgage Refinance Could Work For You

If you’ve built up a certain amount of equity in your home, you might be eligible to refinance your mortgage. Refinancing basically involves getting a new mortgage to replace the original one. The first loan is paid off, then a second loan is created, usually at a much lower interest rate.


Refinancing isn’t for everyone, nor can just anyone even be eligible for it. But for many homeowners, refinancing can be an ideal opportunity to save money and pay off debt faster.

Here are 6 reasons why you might want to consider refinancing your mortgage.

1. Take Advantage of a Lower Interest Rate

The main reason to refinance your mortgage – and the most obvious one – is to take advantage of a lower interest rate. It’s been years now that interest rates have been hovering at record lows, so now’s as good a time as ever to tap into these reduced rates to save a bundle by the end of your amortization period. You can get a 30-year mortgage at just over 3% right now, and an even lower rate with a 15-year loan.

If you locked in at a high rate when you first got approved for your mortgage, now might be a prime time to consider refinancing. You could literally be saving thousands upon thousands of dollars just by spending a few hours to fill out some paperwork and hand in the necessary documents to your lender.


2. Shorten Your Mortgage Loan Term

The longer your mortgage term and amortization period, the more money you’l be dishing out in interest at the end of the day. By refinancing at today’s low interest rates, you just might find that a 20-year loan is not that much more expensive than a 30-year loan.

Get in touch with a mortgage broker, or find an online mortgage calculator to plug in some numbers to see just what the difference would be. If the estimate you get is feasible for you, consider getting in touch with a mortgage specialist who can help you iron out all the details to get you refinanced, and shorten your loan period.

3. Cash Out Your Home Equity

Let’s face it – everyone’s got a huge expense that they face on occasion. Tuition fees, emergency medical expenses, home renovations, investment property purchases and starting a new business are all examples of expenses that require a huge stack of Benjamins up front. Not everyone has that kind of liquid cash laying around, but many do have the money in their home’s equity.

The longer your home has been appreciating in value and the more money you’ve been paying towards your principle will add to your home’s equity. It might make sense in certain scenarios to cash out on this equity to pay for some of life’s more costly expenses. It mainly depends on what you’re trying to do, and if you are the type of person who is able to manage debt responsibly.

4. Consolidate Your Debt

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably got a variety of bills to manage and pay every month. And some may not necessarily be due at the same time each month, making it more challenging to remember to pay your bills. Miss a payment, and not only will you be charged a late fee, but your credit score will also be affected. Not only that, but some of your bills are probably attached to a sky-high interest rate. Credit cards in particular are known to charge borrowers exorbitant rates, some as high as 20%.


By consolidating your debts and using your home equity to secure a loan, you can take advantage of a lower interest rate by using the equity you’ve built in your home as security. This will give you the convenience of having to only worry about one consolidated payment instead of several bills. You’ll also end up paying less in the long run thanks to the lower interest rate that typically comes with this set-up.

5. Cash Out to Purchase Investment Property

A trend that has been emerging among home owners lately is taking money out of home equity to buy investment properties. Refinancing your mortgage to buy other real estate can help you build wealth through investments you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford to make.

Of course, these types of endeavors require careful considerations, including tax or mortgage underwriting issues. Speaking with a mortgage broker or real estate agent will help you figure out if this is something you can swing without exposing yourself to a high amount of risk.


6. Ditch the Adjustable-Rate and Lock Into a Fixed One

If your current mortgage has an adjustable rate, you might want to consider refinancing to lock into a fixed one instead. Interest rates might be super low right now, but they won’t necessarily stay that way.

Locking into a fixed-rate mortgage at a low rate can help protect you from any crazy fluctuations in interest rates which will cost you dearly in the long run. Not only that, but it’s a lot easier to plan and budget for fixed payments compared to volatile ones.

Refinancing can be the ideal solution for you, but you definitely need to carefully consider all angles before you take the plunge. Weigh out the pros and cons of your specific financial position and make a decision that will address your best interests. Take the time to sit down with a mortgage specialist to iron out all the nitty gritty to see if refinancing is right for you.

Storage Solutions to Make the Most of Small Spaces

Living in a small house or apartment can be challenging, even if you have few belongings when you move in. Over time, you’ll inevitably collect more items, requiring you to creatively store things with limited closet space and shelving.

But you don’t have to live in a 2,000 square foot house to have plenty of space for everything you own. By making the most of the space you have available, you’ll have more room than you ever imagined. Here are a few of the most popular types of storage solutions for small living areas.


Your place is likely covered in unused space. As you look around, pay special attention to empty walls, especially toward the ceiling. Shelving is a great way to create extra storage space where it didn’t previously exist, even if that space is close to the ceiling. Rarely-used items can be stored there to be accessed only when needed. This type of storage can be implemented in bathrooms and kitchens, as well, to create extra storage space above toilets and sinks.


Corners are also ideal for storage, with specially-designed shelving units creating a place for your books, keepsakes, and supplies. You can also use creative shelving in cabinets and closets to add extra space. Instead of simply installing shelves under your sink, you can use a Lazy Susan approach that makes frequently-used items more easily accessible. With the right type of shelving, cabinet space can be maximized to double, triple, and even quadruple the number of items that can be stored there.


Storage Bins

There’s no shortage of bins and baskets available to meet your small-space storage needs. For high-visibility areas, you can employ attractive baskets that match your décor, including stackable options that can make the most use of vertical space. Mini-chests of drawers can be used in closets and bedrooms to provide extra space for storing clothing and other personal belongings. With so many attractive options, you can find a look that enhances your living space while also keeping items neatly tucked away.


Storage bins can allow for items to easily be placed under beds, in closets, and in storage areas like attics and basements. Because these bins often stack easily, you’ll often find that you can pack mass quantities of personal belongings into them, squeezing a large amount into a small space. These bins are also ideal for seasonal items like off-season clothing and holiday decorations. Even once you’ve moved to a larger space, you’ll often find that storage bins are a great way to store items when they aren’t in use.


Living in a small space presents quite a few obstacles but with a little creativity, you can tuck items neatly away and free up extra room. Once you’ve learned to use the extra space available, you’ll likely realize that even in larger spaces, creative shelving and storage bins are a great way to keep clutter at bay while still having access to belongings in case you ever need them.

Shopping for an Apartment? Beware These 6 Red Flags

It can be pretty exciting to look around for an apartment, especially if it’s your first. At the same time, it can be downright overwhelming and intimidating. After all, you never know who you’ll be renting from or who your close-quarter neighbors will be.

So before you hand over first and last month’s rent, make sure none of these 6 red flags rear their ugly heads during your hunt.

1. Badly Maintained Property

Look out for any signs of poor maintenance, including rattling doors, cracked windows, burned-out light bulbs, ill-functioning appliances, and so forth. Basically, the place shouldn’t be falling apart when you go have a look at the unit.

Landlords should do their best to make sure a property is presented in the best light possible when showing prospective tenants. If they have no qualms about showing the place in utter disarray, the odds of any maintenance requests that you might have after you move in might not be taken seriously. If the place is already in shambles, good luck getting the landlord to heed to your repair requests.


2. Weak Water Pressure

You might not think too much about the water pressure in a property, but this is a biggie. When you’re scoping out an apartment, make sure to take the time to turn all the faucets on and off. And don’t forget about flushing the toilets too. Pay attention to see if the water is coming out strongly, or if it’s barely trickling out.

In a building, the water pressure is controlled by an internal water management system. It’s not like you can quickly and easily install a new shower-head if you wanted to, for instance. This is a major plumbing issue that would have to be dealt with by property management at their discretion.


3. Strange Odors

This might sounds silly, but make sure you sniff around for any odd smells in the unit. You’re looking for specific odors here, and not just any smells. For instance, while cigarette smoke might be unpleasant, this issue can be easily dealt with by deep cleaning the carpets or re-painting the walls.

Other smells, on the other hand, are not as easy to handle. If you smell any musty doors, you could be dealing with mold or mildew that’s lurking behind the walls, which is dangerous to be inhaling day in and day out. These are things that you definitely don’t want to be stuck with.

4. Insecure Windows and Doors

You want to make sure that you’re safe in your apartment. If your doors don’t lock properly, or the windows don’t shut all way, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to break-ins.

In addition to checking all the locks, make sure that any sliding doors stay on their tracks when they’re opened and closed. In addition, make sure that all windows have screens, and that they open and shut all the way. If the apartment is on the ground level, make sure the windows have bars too.


5. Noise Coming From Other Units

It’s one thing to be able to hear blaring music coming from another apartment. But if you can clearly hear a typical conversation from next door, you’re dealing with paper-thin walls.

Imagine all the other noise you would hear day in and day out, like loud footsteps, energetic kids, active pets, and so forth. Don’t expect any peace and quiet if every little noise can be heard in your unit. And if you can hear them, they can hear you too.

6. The Overly Zealous Landlord

At first, it might seem sort of nice that your potential landlord isn’t demanding a letter of employment or a credit report, or asking for references from previous landlords. It might also seem awesome that the landlord is easily convinced to shave a few bucks off the rental price.

But beware of hyper-zealous landlords like these, who are obviously doing their best to offload the apartment as soon as possible. What kind of neighbors will you have if the landlord pretty much lets anyone in without checking their background? Not only that, but is there something wrong with the place that the landlord is trying to hide?

Trust your gut. If the landlord seems overly eager and even a little pushy, you might want to look elsewhere.


Apartment hunting isn’t always easy. And when you do find one that you think you like, don’t sign on the dotted line just yet. You want to take the time necessary to make sure the place is right for you. After all, you’re going to be bound to the lease term, so you want to do your best to make sure you’ll be happy living there until you’re off the hook.

A Sconce Askance (and Other Exciting Lighting Opportunities)

From tea candles to track lights, lighting can enhance your home value, complete a design scheme, and literally brighten your days like no other element.

Installed lighting can obviously be a big investment. But if you’re looking for something modern, versatile, and low profile, you can’t beat recessed lighting from the pros. Hint: LED bulbs are stronger and more affordable these days and they make everything better in a recessed lighting plan. Good color, dimmable, and they last forever!


If you’re looking for actual design, however, you’ll want to be a bit more selective. Instead of hitting the big box lighting store on a Saturday afternoon, indulge in some whimsy and originality. Get a little craftier by going online. Handmade originals are each loving designed by a single artist. When guests enter a room with one of these puppies incorporated into your design, we can guarantee compliments. And the answer to where can I get one? is “you can’t.” Since each is a one-of-a-kind. And given all that, you’ll be shocked at the prices.


One-of-a-kind selections from small shops featuring handmade fixtures that are totally affordable and full of personality are simply always in style.


Lately, designers are incorporating vintage elements, unique filaments, and ceramics in addition to traditional metals and glass in lighting fixtures. And they’re encouraging homeowners and designers to get adventurous with both shape and placement. (As you can tell from the title, we’re into a surprising sconce or two to throw some light on your design situation.)

Warm woods are also one of our favorite lasting trends in lighting. Looking around you’ll find some pretty extraordinary examples of wood-themed lighting: from ribbons of honey-colored oak wound into lamp shades to delicate pine dowels hung in geometric shapes. Somehow it’s  the perfect compliment to both a mid-century modern arm chair and industrial metallics. Wood accents. Who knew not just for the 70s anymore!


Cost-cutting design hint: Installing dimmers is a super DIY-able thing to do, and it can make you even happier with your gorgeous new purchase. A unique design doesn’t guarantee flexibility. Adding a dimmer puts instant modern on your vintage edison sconces. Double design bonus.

Shine on.

Facing Off Against a Cash Buyer – Can You Compete?

After pounding the pavement for what seems like forever, you’ve finally found the place you want to put an offer on. But alas, someone else has already got their fingers on it, and it’s a cash buyer, no less. Buyers with cash are known to swoop in and snatch up properties from under mortgaged buyers. But don’t fret – you’re not necessarily out of the game just yet.


Here are some ways you can be some stiff competition to an all-cash buyer.

Offer More Than The Competition

Throwing more money on the table that what the cash buyer is offering might sound nuts. But when sellers see dollar signs, they might just be willing to look in your favor, even if the cash offer looks like a shoo-in. If you want to increase your chances of landing the house, you might want to consider topping the cash offer with more money. If this is the house you plan on living in for a long time, the extra cash might be worth it.


Give the Sellers the Closing Date They Want

If the sellers still haven’t bough another house to move into, they might need some extra time to find the right place, especially if the supply is short. On the other hand, if the sellers are anxious to get the house off their hands in order to save on carrying costs, they might want the deal to close sooner rather than later.

If you want to stand up to the competition, give the sellers the closing date they want. Whether this means having to wait a little, or closing next week, so be it. It’s just one additional way to sweeten the deal.


Offer a Massive Down Payment

If you can afford to scrounge up as much liquid cash as possible to put towards a down payment, your offer will look more attractive. You may not be able to pay for the house in full with cash, but the more money you put towards a down payment, the less financing you’ll need, which always looks safer in the eyes of the seller.

Many times the reason why financing may fall through is because the appraisal comes in at a lower number than the purchase price. In this case, if you’ve only borrowed 50%, for instance, you shouldn’t have as much of an issue compared to borrowing 75% or 80% of the purchase price.


Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage, and Skip the Financing Clause

Sellers ideally like to see a clean offer, which means little or no clauses. One condition in particular that can get the sellers’ guard up is a financing condition. While this is great to protect you against losing your deposit should the financing not go through, it’s not so great for the sellers. One of the most effective ways to compete against an all-cash buyer is to eliminate this condition altogether.

However, you don’t have to forego all protection whatsoever. To shave off some risk, make sure that you get pre-approved for a mortgage first. Just make sure that you’ll be able to bail yourself out in the event that you do lose your deposit if the seller accepts your offer, but your financing falls through for some reason.


Get a Pre-Appraisal Done

Getting the property appraised in advance can not only cut down on the time it takes to close the deal, but it can also help increase the assurance that the lender will cover you for a specific loan amount to pay for the property. However, this might be easier said than done when it comes to bigger lenders, so you might have to go through a smaller lender or mortgage broker to make this happen.


 Of course, there’s only so much you can do before exhausting all your resources and efforts. But by getting your finances in order, working with a mortgage broker in advance, and dealing with a good local real estate agent, you can draft up an offer that’s as attractive to the seller as possible. You never know – you just might end up a winner.

Buying and Selling at the Same Time? Here’s How to Do It

Moving out of your parents’ house and into a newly purchased home is one thing. But having a home to sell while looking for a new one takes things to a whole new level. The stress of buying and selling at the same time can drive you to drink if you’re not prepared, or if you don’t have the right team behind you to guide your through the process.

Follow these tips to help you avoid owning two homes at the same time – or wind up without a home at all.


Start Working With a Mortgage Broker Now

You’ve got to understand the numbers when to comes to both the sale of your existing home and the purchase of your new home. Your first stop should be with a mortgage broker who will help you navigate your money situation and your financing options.

You’ll be able to figure out things such as how much of a down payment you can scrounge up for a new home, and how much equity you currently have in your existing home. Once you’ve got these numbers crunched, get your mortgage pre-approval process started so you’re ready to pounce when you find the house that’s right for you.

buying and selling a house at the same time

buying and selling a house at the same time

Understand the Current Market

Is currently it a buyer’s or seller’s market where you are? The answer to this question will help determine the state of supply versus demand in your area. If it’s a buyer’s market, there should be plenty of inventory to sift through, which means you could probably find the perfect house in no time. However this might mean that it could take a little longer to sell your home since buyers have the upper hand. In this case, you might want to put your home up for sale first before you start pounding the pavement in search of your new home.


On the other hand, a seller’s market could mean the opposite – while you might be able to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, it might be slim pickings as far as finding a new house goes. This could put you in a position were you might have to vacate your home before buying another home. In this scenario, you might want to start looking for a new house first before you list your home, at least to give you a feel for what’s out there.


Negotiate a Longer Closing Period

If you list your home and it sells before you’ve been able to secure a new home, negotiate with your buyer to see if they are willing to agree to a longer closing period. For instance, instead of a 30- or 45-day closing, try negotiating for 90 days or more so you have more time to find the home you want.


Rent Back After Selling

If your buyer isn’t keen on a super-long closing period, ask them if they’d be willing to rent back the home after you’ve sold it until you’ve had a chance to find your new home. Not only is this extremely helpful for you, but it also gives your buyers a chance to make a few bucks in the process from collecting rent checks. It should be noted, however that this option typically only works in a seller’s market.


Look Into Bridging Your Mortgage

Don’t freak out if you’ve already found and bought the home of your dreams, but still haven’t had a solid offer on your current home yet. You don’t exactly have to carry the weight of two mortgages at the same time. That’s where a bridge loan can be a huge life-saver. These are temporary loans that “bridge” the gap between the mortgages of both your existing and your new home. This loan is secured against your current property, and the money from the bridge loan can then be put towards a down payment on your “movin’—on-up” home.

There could be some drawbacks to a bridge loan, depending on your financial situation and the state of the current market. It’s always a good idea to chat with a mortgage broker and real estate agent first before tapping into this option.


As always, make sure you work with an experienced real estate agent. With two sales involved here, things could get overly complex for the average home owner with no assistance. There are tons of variables that can come into play when you’re buying and selling at the same time, which will each affect the decision-making process.

Your realtor can give you sound advice based on the market and your financial position so you’re not stuck in a situation that will wind up costing you dearly.

Want to Put in a Lowball Offer? Consider These 5 Things First

Just about every home buyer wants to find the perfect place at a discount. While this might happen on occasion, it’s definitely more realistic for buyers to have to have wheel and deal in order to get the price point as low as possible.

Putting in a lowball offer – one that is considered a lot lower than the asking price – can be risky, since the majority of sellers may be insulted by such a low number. But by doing your homework first, and keeping the offer somewhere in the vicinity of the listing price, you can effectively boost your chances of scoring the home at a selling price that you’ll be happy with.

Before you put in a lowball offer, consider these 5 factors first.


What Have Other Comparable Properties in the Area Recently Sold For?

One of the first things that you should do is analyze other recent sold properties in the neighborhood that are comparable to the home you’re looking at. These other properties should ideally be similar in size, location, features, age, and so forth.

This is where a real estate agent can come in really handy – while the average home buyer might be able to find out the asking price of current listings, finding out what previous listings sold for is a lot tougher without the right resources. Your local real estate agent will have access to this information.

Once armed with these numbers, you can identify if the seller of the property you’re looking at is asking for too much. If this is the case, you have good reason to go much lower than the listing price, as long as it’s somewhat in line with what other similar properties sold for in the recent past.


How Eager Are the Sellers to Get Rid of the Property?

Are the sellers desperate to get the home off the market? Are they in the middle of a divorce? Are they being relocated to a different city for work? Are there two homes being supported at the same time? How willing the sellers are to accept your lowball offer will typically come down to how motivated they are. Try to poke around for information, or get your realtor to do the scoping around for you.


Is the Listing Getting Stale?

The longer a listing sits on the market, the more stale it gets. Properties that linger on the market for a long time start to get a bad reputation from buyers, who will typically wonder if there is something wrong with the home if it still hasn’t had any bites.

If its been weeks or months that the property has been sitting on the market, the sellers may become increasingly anxious to sell. Under these circumstances, they might be willing to entertain just about any offer, including a lowballer. At some point they have to sell, and if all they can get is what you’re offering, they just might take it.


Give the Sellers a Clean Offer

If you’re not going to offer the sellers the price they want, then make the rest of your offer as clean and attractive as possible. One way to do this is to limit the number of clauses and contingencies in the offer, or eliminate them altogether. While you might still want to keep a home inspection clause, don’t start nitpicking with minor clauses, like leaving the window treatments, or fixing the railing on the staircase, or making sure the floors are cleaned before they vacate.

In addition, make sure you’ve got your finances in order beforehand, which includes getting a pre-approval for a mortgage. Any lowball offers should always be accompanied by a pre-approval letter and a sizable deposit check. In fact, the more money you put up front in cash, the more likely the sellers will be to accept your lowball offer.


Don’t Insult the Seller

Offering a price that’s much lower than what the seller is asking for can be a sticky situation. Many sellers will be downright insulted by a lowball offer. After all, it’s still their home, and possibly a place where they raised their kids.

Even if you think the listing price is way more than it should be, or the property needs some work, it’s still important to be respectful of the seller while following the rules of conduct of the current housing market. Lowballing the sellers could end the deal, but if you work closely with an experienced realtor who will present the offer expressing your genuine interest and appreciation in the property, your offer might be more likely to get accepted.


Putting in a lowball offer on a property isn’t always the right move. You’ll have to prepare yourself to lose the house in this case. However, if you follow the skilled advice of a good local real estate agent and be respectful towards the seller, you can bump up your chances of the landing the place.

Wanna be a Landlord? Consider These 6 Things First

With the rental market booming in many parts of the country, there’s good money to be made as a landlord. There are plenty of real estate investors who make a good living as landlords, so why not you? If you want to get in on the action, there are a few things you need to think about first before you channel you inner Mr. Furley and add the title of “landlord” to your name.


1. Understand the Landlord-Tenant Law in Your State Back and Front

Just about every state in the US has its own specific landlord-tenant stipulations to make sure all happenings are fair and lawful. These provisions include a ton of details, such as how much a landlord can raise the rent year after year, the rights of the landlord to enter the rental premises, and how much notice landlords need to give tenants to vacate the unit, among others.

It’s pretty common for the average landlord to just quickly gloss over these laws, or not bother to read them over at all. If you’re lucky, you’ll land the perfect tenant that pays on time every month, and takes good care of the property. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and there are plenty of little loopholes and traps that can come up in the most unexpected ways. It’s crucial as a landlord that you fully grasp the law in your state regarding the landlord-tenant relationship so you don’t get burned.


2. Be Super Picky About Your Tenants

You’re going to be stuck with your tenant for at least a few months, so make sure you pick the right one. A thorough screening job is an important step, and includes conducting a background and credit check, confirmation of employment, and a phone call or two to previous landlords or other viable references. You want to know that your tenant has been an ideal one in the past. If you find out about any delinquencies on their part, move to the next candidate.


3. Pick an Investment Property That You Live Close to

While this isn’t entirely mandatory, it sure makes things a lot easier when you’re just a few minutes away from your rental property should a problem arise. Being close by makes it a lot easier for you to conduct periodic checks, take care of repairs, or show the property when it comes time to either re-rent or sell the property. If you aren’t nearby, you might want to consider hiring a property management company that will take care of maintaining the property and collecting rent checks for you.


4. Have a Thorough and Customized Lease Drafted Up

A written lease agreement is a no-brainer when becoming a landlord, but you’ve got to make sure that it clearly includes all the stipulations necessary to protect you – and the tenant – under all foreseeable circumstances. While you can get your hands on a generic lease that just requires you to fill in the blanks, you’d be better off having a lease fully customized on your behalf that perfectly fits your situation. Having a lawyer or real estate agent do this for you can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.


5. Check Up on the Property on a Regular Basis

Even though you’re not living in the property, it’s still yours. As such, you want to make sure your tenants are maintaining their end of the bargain by taking care of the unit. The only way to do this is to pop in every two or three months to make sure everything is up to par. Make sure that you clearly specify in your lease that the tenant is responsible for any damage done to the property while they’re living there. You might even want to have photos taken before the tenant moves in to give you a baseline of what the property should look like while the tenant is living there, and if/when they move out.


6. Make Sure You’ll Be Making Money

The whole reason behind being a landlord is so that you can earn a profit. Make sure you do some serious and in-depth number crunching before you buy an investment property and hand the keys over to your tenant. You’re going to need to fork over a lot of money up front first before the rent checks start pouring in. Costs such as a down payment, mortgage, landlord and property insurance, property taxes, and ongoing maintenance fees are all expenses that need to be factored into the equation before you consider becoming a landlord. Make sure that whatever potential rent you’ll be collecting will at least cover all these expenses to make sure you’re not in the hole at the end of the day.


Renting out a property and regularly collecting rent on it sounds like a viable investment plan, and it can be, as long as you’ve done your homework first. As profitable as being a landlord can be, there’s work – and risk – that goes along with it. The more due diligence on your part, the safer – and more profitable – you’ll be.

The Gloves Are Off: Be Prepared for a Bidding War!

You’ve found the house of your dreams, and are prepared to put in an offer on it. But so are a bunch of other home-buyer hopefuls. The result? A bidding war. While this puts the sellers in the driver’s seat, it forces buyers to get ready for battle. Unfortunately, bidding wars on properties in desirable neighborhoods are common, and are here to stay.

Here are some tips to prepare you for a nasty bidding war to help you come out victorious.


Go in There With Your Best Offer

Forget about playing the back-and-forth game that comes with a typical real estate offer. You know the drill – buyer puts in an offer, seller signs back with a higher price, then buyer comes back with a slightly higher number, and so on. When it comes to a multiple offer situation, you need to come in with your best shot, and that means offering them the highest amount you’re willing to pay for the house. There’s little negotiating room here. If you’re competing with other offers, you want to make sure your offer stands out, and that starts with a desirable offer price.


Get Your Financing in Order Beforehand

When sellers have a bunch of offers on the table, they’re more likely to pick the one that doesn’t require a waiting period to see of a particular buyer can get approved for a mortgage. Instead, they want to see buyers who already have their finances lined up in advance so the process can proceed as quickly as possible. Having your financing ready can help reassure sellers that you’re financially capable of closing the deal.


Offer a Sizeable Down Payment

Show the sellers the money and put in as much as you can afford towards the down payment. The bigger, the better. Putting a big chunk of change as a down payment will give the sellers more assurance that you’re able to follow through with the deal. There’s nothing that speaks louder than cold, hard cash when it comes to grabbing a seller’s attention. Including a large down payment with your offer will help put you in the spotlight, and give you a leg up on the competition. Just make sure you’re good for the money – you don’t want to make an offer that you’re not comfortable with, or one that will put you in financial distress.


Limit the Conditions

Ideally, sellers like to see an offer come in with zero conditions. Basically, once the agreement is signed by both parties, it’s a done deal. There are no clauses keeping the deal open that need to be dealt with before the offer is complete. Financing or inspection contingencies in particular can make sellers nervous about any possible delays, so if possible, avoid these conditions if you can. The cleaner the offer, the better in a multiple offer situation. However, make sure that you’re not eliminating anything that you strongly feel could put you in hot water.


Come Prepared With a Certified Check

A deposit is always part of an offer. The digger you deep into your pockets, the better off you’ll be in a bidding war. Not only should you offer a hefty deposit, but you should also show up to the offer presentation with a certified check in your hands, ready to be deposited by the seller. The deposit will be going towards your down payment anyway, and you’ll get it back if your offer is rejected. A clean, attractive offer with a large deposit in the form of a certified check can put you in the winning seat in a bidding war.


As always, having a skilled realtor on your team can help you maximize your chances of winning a bidding war. This scenario isn’t exactly enjoyable for buyers, but with the right teammates and a well-prepared offer, you stand a very good chance of landing the home of your dreams.