So Your House Hasn’t Sold? Advice for 2016

Investment risk and uncertainty in the real estate housing market

The year has drawn to a close, and the property you were trying to sell in 2015 just hasn’t budged. What now? You may naturally be a little disappointed or frustrated, but don’t despair; you still have multiple options. In this article we’ll cover some expert advice on what your next step should be. We will clearly outline your options to help you make the right decision moving into 2016.

Taking your House off the Market

You can easily justify this decision, sometimes its important to understand that the market just isn’t quite right at the moment. Of course in most instances at the right price, any property will sell. So if you are serious about moving you and your family may benefit from re-evaluating your current list price before you consider taking your house off the market. However, if you are considering making some improvements to your home in order to increase its desirability, then taking it off the market for a few months can be a good idea.

Put the money you would be paying for your listing into minor repairs or design improvements that will really boost the appeal of your house. Sometimes just one more unique feature is enough to sell a property, so use your imagination (or the internet) to come up with an idea that will set your property apart. It could be a clever storage concept or a feature wall. Be aware however, that making improvements doesn’t mean you can suddenly bump up the price. There was a reason your house didn’t sell previously, so keep that in mind.

Re-listing your Home

If you are considering re-listing your home with your existing real estate agent, it is worth asking for their advice. They may have a good idea why the home didn’t sell. Again, this may be going back to pricing, which is always a tricky aspect of the home selling process. Your agent will work with you to improve your campaign and bring buyers along.

You need to convince your buyers that your home is worth having. Make sure the pictures on your listing are clear and good quality, really showing the home at its best. If you don’t have the resources it is worth paying a professional photographer to come in and photograph your house. Choose someone with experience in the field who knows how to use light and composition to make rooms appear big and inviting. Make sure the description of your home is detailed and tells the potential buyer all the great features of the property. Describe the advantages of the location and mention the things that drew you to the house in the first place. In your listing, you are not just selling a house but the lifestyle that comes with it as well.

Sell it Yourself?

Maybe you feel like you’re done with real estate agencies altogether. They didn’t sell your house, so you don’t want to pay them more money for another year of failure. Perhaps you think you can do a better job yourself. For sale by owner’ (FSBO) is an option for you.

However, although this option may seem appealing, the time, effort and money that go into planning a marketing strategy to sell a home are actually pretty hefty. You will need to construct the whole campaign yourself and find all the places to list your house. In order to get wide enough coverage to find a buyer you will need to put a lot of effort into running your home selling campaign efficiently.

If you have the time to spare and the expertise to carry this out, then it certainly is feasible. But remember that you are paying an agent to put all the time and effort in for you, as well as dealing with the negotiations with the buyer.

Find a New Agent

Your best bet for selling your home may be to find a new agency to help you. A good agent will be able to review the aspects of your old campaign and make it better this time around. They will work with you to improve the listing and give their expert advice on how to increase chances of a sale. Even if you have been disappointed by a real estate agency in the past, using an agent is always the wisest course of action.

As a Buyer, Should you Write a Letter to the Seller?

businessman is writing a letter or signing a agreement

Your cash payment and non-contingent offer may not be cutting it in a competitive market. Is it a good idea to reach out to the seller via letter? Is it going to help with the ten additional offers they have already received on the property in question? If you are a buyer wondering if this non-conventional means of  outreach to the seller will help, the answer is maybe. However, you have to really consider the context before sending such a letter. When it does work this can be a great way of setting yourself apart as a potential buyer. That being said, there are plenty of situations where it really won’t make too much of a difference.

If you do choose to write the letter, let’s discuss some key points of emphasis to consider.

Who is your audience?

Who exactly is the seller in this situation? If you truly love the home and want to put your best offer forward, you really have to learn as much as possible about the seller. How do you learn about the seller? Your agent will be the best possible bridge you have to the them and their personal life. They speak to the seller’s agent to find out who they are, where they’re from, why they are selling, what their situation is, and so on. In some cases you may consider the use of social media and Google searches to gain some additional insight. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to properly reach out and write a compelling letter to them.

Make an appeal to longer term owners

Sellers that have a family are typically a better audience when it comes to writing a letter. Those who have lived in a home for years, have built memories with their kids and have emotional ties to the house you’re interested in. By eliciting any emotion (obviously positive ones) you will find the letter can help in many situations. These sellers typically want to know who you are as a buyer. Who will be living in their home, making new memories there, and how long do you plan on living in that property. Make an emotional appeal by writing a compelling and heartfelt letter. Let them know you don’t plan on demolishing the home, but rather, living there for years and making new memories while you’re there. All of these positive emotions will help build a tie with the seller.

Don’t waste your time if you’re dealing with investors  

If the owner of the home has simply used it as a rental property for years, a letter typically won’t do much good, as they aren’t very emotionally attached to the house. The bottom line is what investors typically care about. So, it won’t do you much good to tell them how you plan on building a future with your family, these investors simply want to know how much of a profit they can turn when selling the home . If you’re dealing with investors, bypass the letter and simply submit your best offer possible. Since the letter is going to fall on deaf ears, you might as well try and make the best offer you can.

Build a connection  

Do what you can to connect with the seller. When going to an open house look at the art or decor that adorns the walls and furniture. Any connection or tie you can make between yourself and the seller will help and work in your favor. When you connect, you learn who they are and what they like. If you notice trophies or memorabilia in the home, take a moment to discuss it. Discuss your mutual love of sports if you’ve played in the past for example. These ties might help make you a more memorable buyer, and will allow the seller to connect with you on a deeper level when considering offers on the home.

In competitive situations you have to sell yourself as a buyer. So, take note, learn who the seller is, and do your research. With the right seller in a competitive situation, a well written and direct letter to the seller can make a world of difference. In fact, it may be what pushes you over the top when the seller is trying to decide which offer to accept on the home.

The Best Saving Strategies for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials

Happy multi-generation family portrait in the countryside

Regardless of what stage you’re at in your life, it’s wise to consider setting money aside for your future. If you are planning on saving more funds in the coming New Year, then you need to develop a structured plan. At the various stages of your life you’ll be faced with different financial responsibilities and those responsibilities will influence the decisions you need make.

Below are a few age-specific saving tips to consider as we move towards the coming new year.

Ages 51-69 (baby boomers)

If you were born between 1946 & 1964, then you are part of the baby boomer generation that makes up more than one-fourth of America’s population. Your financial situation may be better than that of your younger counterparts in some aspects. Your retirement account however, may not be exactly what you had hoped it would be at this point. In fact, only 60% of individuals within this age group confirm having any retirement funds at all. Most baby boomers also don’t have a pension and are they’re often faced with Medicare and Social Security challenges.

So you may find yourself feeling a little anxious at this critical time in your life. This is why you have to be a little more serious about saving, which may even involve having to adjust to a simpler lifestyle so you can pocket more money. Here’s a few ideas that can help you do just that.

· Start working again – many people in this age bracket consider going back to work and for good reason. There are always basic jobs available to you that can help add a little extra income, as well as help keep preoccupied now that you’ve presumable retired.

· Try to live on a minimum budget – you may even want to consider downsizing. At this stage in life especially its always easier to consider a smaller house with less up keep.

· Increase your post retirement investments – accelerating your retirement investments is always a plausible decision to make. Always consider consulting a brokerage firm for this type of decision.

· Ensure that all your investments are properly allocated – typically more than half of baby boomers are uncertain about the allocation of their investments. Again its important to do some research on your own and consult a brokerage firm.

· Consider long-term care insurance – this will help cover the costs of long term care beyond a predetermined period of time.

A Majority of baby boomer parents often take care of their children but doing so at the expense of their own financial security. According to a research done by Ameriprise Financial, 93% of these parents confirmed that they support their adult children financially, 71% helped them with college tuition & loans and 53% helped them purchase a car.

Ages 36-50 (Gen Xers)

A Majority of Gen Xers (born between 1965 &1979) are often occupied with things like raising families, advancing their careers or even caring for their elderly parents. Usually these are some of the most expensive years of one’s life, which can often bring about the challenge of managing your own cash flow. Raising kids can be quite expensive, as you probably know. Money management is very critical at this point in your life, every time you get paid set aside a fraction of that income before you spend it. Also give yourself some time to analyze your expenses and plan accordingly.

It’s also advisable to let someone else save for you – for instance, you can have your bank or employer take money off out of your pay and have it deposited into another account with ease. This can significantly help you achieve you savings goals or build your retirement account.

Remember, a big purchase that characterizes this stage of life is your home purchase. Its important to set yourself up for the future as much as possible when tacking on a mortgage.

Millennials (19-35)

Millennials tend to be doing much better than those of Gen X, especially when it comes to their daily finance management. However, when it comes to making financial decisions, they live in the moment and long term financial plans (e.g. retirement) can often be forgotten.

· Most people spend 30% of their monthly income on their rent. You can reduce this cost by living at home or even sharing an apartment.

· At this point in your life you might also find your self in debt with student loans. The best strategy is to go for an income based repayment plan.

· For your discretionary spending, allocate yourself a monthly or weekly allowance so that you do not spend more than you should.

The introduction of budgeting apps like Mint has also made setting goals as well as tracking your spending more manageable. It is also very important to monitor your credit score. This becomes significantly relevant if you are planning on buying a home in the near future. Your credit score will play a big role in determining the mortgage rate that you qualify for and therefore how much you can afford.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, take time to carefully save and manage your finances. Regardless of your current economic status you can always benefit from efficient planning and quality advice.

Use These Websites and Apps to Research Potential Neighborhoods

Couple at home looking at bank account on internet

One of the most significant investments you’ll make in your life, will be the home you choose to purchase. The whole process can be quite daunting, especially because there’s a lot of information to sift through. Apart from the fact that you will have to look for a means of financing the investment, you will also have to do a lot of research on the various cities & neighborhoods you’re considering before arriving at a final decision. At every stage of the process you’ll find yourself looking for more information, and while your realtor will certainly have a lot of helpful answers for you, it never hurts to use other online resources as well.

Sometimes, you can get valuable word of mouth information from your family members or even friends. However, this should not be the only way in which you conduct primary research on your prospective neighborhoods.

Technology has greatly advanced and is currently being applied in almost all aspects of life. The real estate industry is no exception when it come to these advances in technology. Currently, you can find useful information on prospective real estate properties not only from websites, but also apps. If you are planning on relocating to a new neighborhood or city, the following websites and apps will provide you with relevant information as you conduct preliminary research. is a great website that provides resourceful information to individuals who are planning on relocating to another city. The website has active forums comprising of locals who reside in the different cities you’re considering. These locals will provide you with exact answers on questions you’ve probably been mulling over. With the answers you get, you can narrow down your selection depending on your preferences.

After you’ve narrowed down your selection, and decided on a city, you can visit where you will receive even more insight on the different communities you’re considering. This website has been designed specifically to give visitors the opportunity to review a neighborhood in its entirety. The rankings of all the communities in any given city is dependent upon ratings given by the local users.

After going through the several neighborhood reviews, you have definitely encountered the answers to some of your questions and the next place to visit is Here, you can take a look at the statistics that define and characterize those communities that peaked your interest. There is some information that may require you to subscribe to the site. This will certainly be the case if you are interested in more detailed information such as, appreciation rates and crime rates. All you need to do is set up and account if you’re looking to find some more in-depth answers.

Rating Apps (e.g. Foursquare and Yelp)

There are also several mobile applications that can also provide you with more information. These apps can be easily downloaded onto your tablet or mobile phone. Traditional rating apps can give you access to a significant amount of local ratings on the various businesses that reside within the city you want to relocate to. The most popular apps of course being Foursquare & Yelp which will provide you with information on community events as well as give you access to monthly forums. You can also get useful insight on the quality of services locally provided by a wide range of vendors in the community. These apps can even help provide you with some useful info on the parks that are located in your local area.

It is always possible to do plenty of preliminary research on your own, but sometimes it is advisable to contact a real estate professional. They will be able to provide you with the exact information you need concerning the neighborhoods you’re considering. they will also be able give you insight and answers to other specific questions you may have, such as. Which areas are best suited for your interests as well as those that you should avoid? In the process, you will be able to narrow down your choices and as a result make the best decision possible. Paring these online resources and mobile apps with the local knowledge of a real estate agent will help ensure that you are prepared to make the best purchase you can make.

What To Consider Before Investing in Real Estate

Gorgeous American home with blue exterior and white trim.

Making a real estate investment is always a great choice, however, people are usually faced with so many questions that they might be potentially deterred from making such an investment. So let’s discuss several factors that you should consider before making such a major decision.

The Market You’re Buying In

Carefully analyzing the neighborhood your potential property is located in is pivotal. What does the future hold for this city or region and how will it affect your property’s price/value should you decide to sell it? It is also important to keep a close eye on developing area’s nearby, trendy upcoming neighborhoods can significantly affect a potential buyers interest in your property.

Return On Investment

It’s only wise to invest in a property that will give you a high return on your investment. Do not avoid properties simply because they are need of some renovations, as the flaws will help you buy cheap and sell high after renovating. In fact most seasoned real estate experts will suggest that you had better buy a structure that needs renovations to help maximize potential profits.

Your Budget

Real estate comes in various shapes and sizes which can easily translate into different prices. As a buyer this can result in serious temptation to spend beyond your means but that shouldn’t be the case if you’ve prepared a budget. By consciously planning the money you can afford to spend on property you will be able to make a successful investment and avoid future losses. As you plan the budget remember that most expensive does not always equal to the best quality. In light of this, you should prepare your budget around other factors that would make the property appealing to you.

What Type Of Loans Do You Need?

As you prepare the budget, you may discover that your funds are not sufficient to cater to the investment. This calls for loans that enable you buy the property you’re attracted to. Before approaching the bank however, pause to consider which type of loan is ideal for you. There is the option of zero down payment, adjustable floating rate, and fixed rate mortgages, among others. Make sure to look around for the best deal to avoid paying unnecessarily high interest rates, premiums or processing fees.

Established Or Under Construction

As a new investor there is always the choice of buying a property that seasoned or established as well as one that is still being built. The latter provides options to customize, attractive pricing as well as clear titles. The downsides to such an investment is that you might experience delays in possession or minimal knowledge of the area. Established buildings may also be quite expensive but you’ll often find comfort in the neighborhood their located in. Remember, you will still need to look a little deeper into ownership and legal affairs.

Real estate agents

Finally, you should consider the assistance of a real estate agent to help guide you through this process. This is the best decision that you can make if you want to make the best possible investment. Agents understand the property market, are familiar with various neighborhoods and have close connections with financial institutions that you might need for lines of credit. The biggest advantage of having a real estate agent in your corner is that they understand all the legal jargon involved in the delicate investment property process as well. This will only help you make the ideal choice without the risk of buying a property that’s entangled in legal tussles.

Real estate is a great way to invest and protect your wealth but that is only possible if you make careful considerations before appending your signature to the sales document. This keeps you safe from unscrupulous dealers while ensuring that you get the highest returns in the long term. It might take some time to analyze all the factors involved in a successful purchase but that is a small price to pay if you want to land the best piece of real estate available. You must get a clear understanding of the landscape to gain more confidence in the property you want to buy and hope to sell in future.

5 Buyer Incentives That Can Help You Close Faster

Happy Mixed Race Couple in Front of Sold Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and House.

Your home is finally on the market and its time to begin the selling process. Now thats its listed, attracting the attention of genuine buyers should be your next important focus. Closing this deal in the least amount of time possible will give you a greater ability to coordinate the purchase of a new home. Allowing you to consider optimal tax benefits or make other important financial decisions. Fortunately, there are a number of buyer incentives that you can supply to help make buyers take immediate action.

Tack On A Few Extras

Sellers are commonly advised to depersonalize their spaces as much as possible before showing them. Staging a home correctly however, requires a few decorative elements. Take note when prospective buyers show a special interest in any window treatments, furnishings or outdoor features that you have no intention of taking with you. Add-ons like these will “sweeten the deal”, irrespective of their actual value. People like feeling as though they’re getting something of value for free.

Offer An Incentive For Closing Quickly

In a buyer’s market, consider offering your prospects an incentive, such as a closing credit for meeting your expected “close by date” along with an additional commission to the buyer’s agent. The costs of these incentives are often far lower than the losses that might occur if the sales process lags. In a seller’s market, let people know what your goals are upfront so that the offers you receive all come from people who are willing to be flexible with their closing dates.

Credits Towards Upgrades

If you have a home that lacks the cutting edge-features that are found in surrounding homes, consider setting yourself apart from the competition by offering credits towards upgrades. This will capture the attention of buyers who are shopping at your price point, but who are also looking for the latest features and amenities. Best of all, when investors get ready to make these upgrades, they can make them according to their own needs and preferences rather than having to make do with what’s already in place. This makes these credits infinitely more appealing.

Boost The Commission For The Buyer’s Broker

It is important to consider all angles of the equation when attempting to attract attention to your home. Not only do you want to appeal to the buyer, but you also want to give his or her agent a good reason to promote your property. Although the best agents advocate equally for all the homes in accordance with their clients’ purchasing goals, a heftier commission could significantly improve the awareness for your listing.

Offer A Credit For Home Repairs

In addition to or as an alternative to credits for property upgrades, you can offer a credit for home repairs. This credit can be used to address any minor issues that are recorded in the inspection report and to give investors a greater sense of assurance. Opting to handle repairs on your own can hold things up and could lead to problems further down the road if the buyer is dissatisfied with the results. Choosing to offer a credit instead will give buyers cash in hand at closing that they can use how and when they see fit. It will also relieve you of the responsibility of ensuring that buyers are happy with the quality of the repairs performed.

Choosing The Right Incentives

Choosing the best incentives for expediting your sale can be challenging. You shouldn’t run out and invest in high-end window treatments just for the sake of having something extra special to offer. Throwing in some of the decorative items that you’ve used to stage your home is best done when buyers are already showing an interest in these things. More commonly, you’ll find that credits towards closing costs are capable of generating the greatest amount of interest. This is due in part to the fact that they represent something that you can easily offer upfront, without buyers first having to outright express a desire for them. It also limits the amount of money that people have to bring to the closing table, which can be a huge relief for those who are finding themselves increasingly cash-strapped as new purchasing costs get factored in. These are direct savings that people like knowing exist. The right credits can actually reduce closing costs by as much as three to six percent, which can be very enticing to even the most comfortable buyer.

Five ways prospective home buyers can benefit from an open house visit


A young family looks up at their new home.

For home buyers, an open house visit is probably the best opportunity to review the property for sale before embarking on journey of purchasing your home. Don’t commit to a home without attending an open house, this is your chance to evaluate some very important factors prior to signing any paper work. As a home buyer, you should take advantage of as many open house visits as possible. This allows you to ensure that the property you choose meets all of your needs. Below are some of the ways you can best take advantage of on open house visits to get the best deal in the market.

Learn the market first before making commitments

One of the most common mistakes that home buyers often make at an open house is entering into deal on their first visit. Before you start making commitments with agents, always ensure that you are well informed about the pricing of the property and its market value. Also, ensure that you have reviewed other homes for sale to ensure that you make the best possible choice. Making as many open house visits as you can will help you get a feel for the market and compare actual home values with their listed prices. You can extend your search online as well to ensure that you gather as much information as possible.

Learn from the behavior other buyers

You can learn if a home is the best deal by observing and talking to other interested buyers. If everyone seems to lose interest on an open house visit, then there is a likelihood that something is wrong with the property. On the other hand, if everyone seems interested in what the agent have to say, then there is a possibility that the property is worth reviewing carefully. Observing the behavior of other buyers will give you insight on the level of competition on the property which allows you to make calculated moves.

Gather as much information from the agent as possible

Use the open house visit as an opportunity to ask as many questions concerning the house as possible. Even when you are not interested in the property in question, there is always something you can learn that will help you at another open house. Typically a house is on the market because the owner is moving but there will always e cases where you might find something wrong with the house. Thats the type of information you should attempt to discover now as opposed to a home inspection down the line. A genuine agent should be open to answering all issues relating to the sale.

Identify talented agents and create a relationship with them

If you are going to be entering into the home selling process in the near future, use the open house visit to identify talented agents. Discussing the home your inspecting with them will help provide with some insight into their experience and understanding of the housing market. If you happen to like them, ask open-ended questions such as, their general view on the market and their general success as an agent. This is essentially an informal setting to interview the potential agent you might work with in the near future. So by all means introduce yourself to them and express your interest in working with them.

Even if you’re not ready to buy a home just yet, open house visits will open up your prospective options on the current housing market. This can only help you plan for your future purchase as efficiently as possible. Even when the agents primary interest is to sell the house for the owner, you can still benefit from their insight without having to commit yourself. Make as many open house visits as possible before you start making commitments. Feel free to ask all the questions you might have as well, this is a no pressure opportunity to learn as much as you can before moving forward.

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For A Great Real Estate Agent

A young couple purchases a new home from a real estate agent.

Real estate agents differ across the board significantly. There are many amazing pros of using real estate agents, but once in a while things can go wrong and as a result spoils everything for all parties involved. In case you have had bad experiences with a real estate agent in the past, you should not allow such a thing to deter you from utilizing an agent all together. If you feel uncomfortable with your current agent then it is advisable to stop everything and look for a new, experienced and proven real estate agent. Ensure you have a good agent before proceeding with the transaction process because a good real estate agent will give you high-quality service and save you meaningless headaches. Below are 5 reasons to be thankful for a great real estate agent.

You’re Best Interests Are Protected

They’ll be there for you when you need them most. There will be situations when you find yourself in the middle of real estate transactions that give you endless frustrations. You might realize that the transaction is characterized by twists and turns that require more than your expertise. This is where a good agent becomes important.

A good agent will be willing to take your call at anytime in the day and listen to what you have to say. In case you decide not to go through with a transaction, the agent will also support your decision. Buying or selling a house is a big choice to make that requires serious financial, emotional and practical considerations. Additionally, your agent should be in a position to uncover any issues that arise as well as suggest backing out of the whole deal early if need be. In a nutshell, a good agent will take your interests to heart and will aim to build a long-term relationship rather than simply making a quick buck.

Always Have Access To Quality Advice

They’ll help get your house ready for sale in good time. A good real estate agent works essentially as a project manager, designer and even networking expert. A good agent will always be timely and efficient in preparing your house for the market. In case you are considering selling your house but you are concerned by the idea of prepping your home and making the necessary improvements or remodeling, a good real estate agent will guide you on this matter. Having someone to act as your council on things like this will always help make your life and experience easier.

With your approval, your agent can go ahead and muster up a team of stagers, painters, contractors and even home decorators if need be. Your agent will act as the lead when it comes to prepping your home for sale, and will be your main point of contact to get the job done quickly.

They Can Accommodate Your Busy Life 

They will help reduce your workload when it comes to the actual real estate transactions as well. You will be required to be available for quite a number of reasons. You will be required to provide a signature at some point for a document that needs to be notarized. Appraisers and inspectors will need access to the house on sale while another party might have a last-minute request that you can’t ignore. In such a situations, a good real estate agent will be there to again advise you on any questions or concerns you may have. Therefore, he/she will drive to your home or even catch you in the lobby of your office building when you are available for that important signature. They is tasked with making the transaction as smooth as possible and will be available 24/7.

Helpful Long After Closing

They’ll send you resourceful data about your home after the transaction is closed. Most agents do their deals and move on with other clients. However, such agents view the entire process as purely transactional. Good agents understand that their services continue even after the transaction is closed. Homeowners are interested to know what’s going on in the market as well as how their investment has fared over time. Therefore, good agents see homes in person quite frequently, taking notes of comparable homes as well as keeping their past clients informed about what’s new in the market.

You Have Access To A Professional Network

Good agents will be well-connected and have access to the inside track in most cases. Deals become successful due to the strength of the relationships an agent builds with other industry professionals over time. A good real estate agent is always connected with other agents, inspectors, deal-makers and even bankers. This way, he or she can help you find the right opportunities off the market and get the time or attention you need or get your offer to the top of a competitive bidding situation.

A great real estate agent always has your interests, need and wants kept close to their heart, and uncovers opportunities to either find your preferred house or buyer. If you’ve already encountered your dream agent, you have a lot to be grateful for but if you haven’t then take the time to identify the right one and get him or her in your team. Agents sell houses but at the end of the they exist to help make your life easier.

Pros And Cons Of Buying A Foreclosed Home

Foreclosure Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful Majestic House.

Foreclosed homes have become somewhat of a popular option for home buyers given the increase in quality of foreclosed homes. Regardless of the path you’re choosing to take in your home buying experience, odds are you’ll come across a foreclose and you’ll question it as a viable option. So let’s break down the different elements of a foreclosed home you’ll need to consider before deciding to make your purchase.

In the recent past foreclosures were often left abandoned. However nowadays, banks usually renovate them before selling. They may frequently seem to offer a better deal but the question remains, is this always the case?


They are cheaper

Currently, foreclosed houses are approximately 5% cheaper in comparison to equivalent homes which are not in foreclosure even if they are in the same location. Previously, they were 15-20% below the market rate, but the current rates are still a better deal. Over time, the value of the home may appreciate and incase you decide to sell, you will definitely make a profit.


1) Foreclosed homes are still expensive to some extent

The prices of foreclosed homes (REOs i.e. bank real estate owned homes) have gone up compared to 5 year ago (although still lower than the market rates). Many banks invest their money into renovating these houses with the hopes of selling them at a good price. This is why the prices have gone up in addition to the fact that there are also huge risks involved. Although you may buy it slightly cheaper than the market rates, you may even find that they are more expensive especially due to all the expenses that you may have to incur in the long run.

2) They may not be in the best condition

In most cases, foreclosed homes are not in very good condition, often requiring significant repairs. Note that damages like roof leakages, molds, plumbing, and any other damage that may require major repairs are not often disclosed. Remember that prior to the foreclosure the home was owned by someone else. Obviously, that homeowner could not continue making their monthly mortgage payments and one of the reasons might have been because he/she did not have the funds to do regular maintenance on the home. Most of the time homes that reach the REO stage of foreclosure are in their worst state. Although you may get an opportunity to do an inspection on the foreclosure home before finalizing the process, they are always sold as is, meaning that you cannot request any repairs as contingency of the sale. You therefore buy the home at your own risk.

3) They may be located in undesirable locations

In most instances, foreclosed homes today are located in unattractive areas. Sometimes, the price of an REO may look great not because the foreclosure makes it cheap but because of its location. You may end up having to spend years stuck in a home located in a bad neighborhood because such houses often take time to sell.

4) Tough competition

Today, many home buyers are attracted to the foreclosure homes because again they are cheaper. Because of this, the competition for these houses is tough (especially for those located in prime locations). If you are not familiar with foreclosed houses or even the trends in the real estate markets, you may find it hard to get a good home or you could even end up paying a lot of money for an undesirable house.

5) Slow process with no guarantees

The process involved in buying a foreclosed home is not only long, it can also be frustrating. Apart from the paperwork, the whole process is sometimes very slow and you may even end up waiting for many weeks before you get a reply. Also remember that these homes are owned by the bank, and they will certainly attempt to get a good price to help recover some portion of their loss. If they get a better deal, your contract may end up being cancelled even if you were almost ready to close the deal.

One of the greatest investments that you can make in life will be purchasing a home. Buying a foreclosed home may seem to be a great deal but may be expensive in the long run. Do a lot of research before making the final decision. Look at the trends in the real estate market and if possible, consult a real estate agent for advice. while this terrain is certainly tricky, you can always find a diamond in the rough.

Holiday gift ideas for roommates

Hands holding beautiful gift box, female giving gift, Christmas holidays and greeting season concept, shallow dof

The holidays are back again! As usual it’s a time to spread some joy around and grab some gifts for your friends and family. If you’ve already gone shopping for your siblings and close friends job well done. This post is going to be specifically for those of you who have a roommate who you’re not sure what to get. See, your roommate has been presumably living with you for quite some time now, and surely they deserve they deserve a holiday gift from you as well.

Before setting out to grab a gift for your roommate, we’d like to present you with a few things to consider that might make your search a bit easier.

Talk about it

Discuss the idea of gifts with your roommate, no one wants to be unprepared or empty handed. Also consider whether or not you have created the required chemistry with them to warrant the exchange of gifts. Financially speaking it might not be something your roommate can do and if thats the case getting them a gift may only upset them. The last thing you’d want to do is guilt someone into a gift exchange when they really cant afford it. Whichever the case, just have a conversation about gifts and see how it goes. If both of you are open to the idea, then go for it.

Set Some Ground Rules

You need to make an important decision regarding the exchange of gifts. For example, what is the timeline involved? You certainly do not want to ambush your friends with gifts in the middle of a busy week. It is important that you make a unanimous decision on the specific time to hand over the packages. You also need to choose the method of exchange. If some of your roommates have traveled, then you could decide to ship your gifts to each other as long as the distance is not going to make you incur steep shipping costs. A face-to -face exchange is a great idea, especially if all of your roommates are available at the specific time suggested. Make it a special occasion and ensure that everyone has no prior engagements on the day you make the exchange. The idea is to make the event as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

Also remember to set a price limit so everyone purchases gifts that are fairly similar in quality. You do not want your friends to delve too deep into their pockets to get you a present, and you certainly do not want to overspend. Imagine getting your friend a 200-dollar denim jacket only to get a 5-dollar gift card in return! It is important that the expenditure on gifts remains more or less balanced across the board. Remember, the financial value of what your give or get is not as important as the gesture and emotion behind it.

Make it a celebration

Exchanging gifts should be an engaging event set apart from the rest of the time you spent with your roommates. As indicated earlier, you will need to set aside a certain day and do something meaningful together. Create an event and use it as a prelude to the gift-sharing process. You could go out to dinner together and take a special meal in order to set the day apart. You could go to the tracks, race some horses and take some photographs. The movies are also a great place in which to set a perfect mood for the exchange of gifts. Carry some popcorn and have fun while you’re at it. Another alternative involves a bottle of wine in the apartment (throw in some log fire if you can), setting the stage for a merry beginning to the festivities. What ever venue you choose make it memorable and entertaining for you and your friends.

Consider a gift for the apartment

This might sound a little odd, but it makes perfect sense. If you find buying gifts for everyone cumbersome, get together and buy a ‘gift’ for the apartment. This gift can be anything so long as it benefits all members of the apartment. It could be a bathtub, a coffeemaker or a blender-anything the apartment needs to be more accommodating and functional. Its important to again remember the pricing and budget limitations of your roommates.

Whatever approach you decide on, always be make sure that everything is all-inclusive, fun and exciting.