Buying a Home

Do Starter Homes Still Exist?

Historically, people buying their first home have gravitated toward houses that are smaller and more affordable. 

For starters, the more modest square footage of these so-called “starter homes” makes them easier to maintain for first-time homeowners, who may be accustomed to a landlord taking care of everything from clogged drains to yard work. Perhaps more importantly, these cheaper houses actually fit into new homebuyers’ budgets — often, they’re all that a single professional or young couple can realistically afford.

The thinking used to be that eventually these young, upstart homeowners would outgrow their starter home and, as they advanced in their careers, could afford to move into a larger space. But in today’s ridiculously hot housing market — where buyers are lining up around the block for showings and homes are selling for tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars over the asking price...

Five Tell-Tale Signs You’re Ready to Buy a House — Beyond Having a Down Payment

When it comes to buying a home, there are the obvious signs you’re ready. The main one? You’ve got enough money saved for a down payment (which doesn’t have to be 20 percent, by the way!), with some cash left over in savings for a cushion. But you also have to be emotionally prepared for ride that could include bidding wars, inspection concerns, and other twists like appraisal gaps.  (All things we are happy to explain to you!) 

But what are some lesser-known — yet still important — signs you’re ready to become a homeowner? Here’s what the real estate experts have to say:

You’ll stay put for a while.

Amid the pandemic, an estimated 50% of all Americans were considering a move. Remote work and new flexible leasing models made frequent moves and test-driving different cities easier than ever before.

If you’re looking to become a homeowner, you don’t necessarily have to...

31 Ways to Save for Your Down Payment

There’s a meme going around that says something like, “I unsubscribed from Netflix and have been packing my own lunch; should be able to afford a house any day now!” This is exactly the type of zinger that resonates with today’s generation of homebuyers. Home prices are at record highs, and factors like student loan debt, salaries not keeping pace with inflation, and high rent prices all make saving for a down payment really difficult.

To put it another way? It’s passé (and laughable, really) to tell anyone that skipping an iced coffee run here and there will magically translate to a down payment fund in this unprecedented market. But if you are looking to put some money aside for a down payment,...

4 Things First Time Home Buyers Are Never Prepared For

Buying a home for the first time is an exciting part of life. After renting or living with family, it’s finally time to have your own place. What once seemed like a dream can quickly become a reality once you find the perfect place — after your offer gets accepted and you eventually close. Having keys in hand and walking through your home for the first time is so gratifying.

However, a few things can quickly bring your head out of the clouds if you aren’t in the know. Of course, owning a home is well worth the investment in yourself and your future, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come with some unexpected costs and roadblocks. But don't worry, we're here to help you navigate the road ahead! Here are...

Buying a Home with a Rental Unit

Buying a home can be full of difficult decisions; and as interest rates rise, some buyers may experience more difficulty planning financially for the property they envision buying.  For people looking for a different way to help pay their mortgage every month, choosing a multi-family property or a home with an attached rental unit might help offset costs and provide the monthly income that makes their mortgage payment a little easier to accomplish.

What Is an Attached Rental Unit?

An attached rental unit, formally called an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), is typically a smaller living space adjacent to a main home. It might be a tiny house in the backyard, or something more like a self-contained mother-in-law apartment attached to the house. It can even be a small apartment over the garage. In many cases, it is even a 2-Family Home where the owner lives in one unit and rents the other.  There aren’t a lot of rules about what an ADU has to be, except...

Can't Afford the Home You Could a Year Ago? Here's What to Do

Credit scores saw a jump during the first year of the pandemic. Now, amid high inflation and rising consumer debt, they’re holding steady - and thats not necessarily a good thing.

The national average FICO credit score sits at 716, which is still an all-time high but is unchanged from a year ago, according to a new report from FICO, the analytics company that developed one of the go-to credit scores for lenders.

This leveling-off of the score is significant, as 2022 marks the first time in over a decade that the average FICO score has not increased year over year.

FICO scores range from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent). Credit scores are used by lenders to determine how risky (or not) you’ll be as a borrower; they impact the terms of credit cards, personal loans and mortgages.


How First-Time Homebuyers Can Negotiate Serious Savings

First-time homebuyers are taking their power back.

As the housing market continues to cool, savvy buyers are seizing the opportunity to save themselves some hard-earned cash. They’re bringing contingencies back, asking sellers to make costly repairs, and even submitting offers for less than the asking price of a home. Sellers, eager to go under contract, are not only giving these offers serous consideration, they’re also increasingly coming to the bargaining table.

Make no mistake: It’s still a seller’s market. Home prices are ratcheting up as there are far more buyers searching for homes than there are properties to go around.

However, higher mortgage rates combined with record-high home prices have doused the frenzy in the housing market. As many first-time and other buyers have been...

Priced Out of Single-Family Homes? Maybe a Condo is Your Best Choice.

Rising mortgage rates mean that millions of homebuyers have been shut out of the market. That, coupled with home prices that are currently up 14.2% compared with last year, means many buyers are simply giving up on their dream of owning a home right now. But what if you don't want to?

Many buyers are now considering another option for homeownership: condominiums.

These privately owned units within a largr complex actually proved more affordable than single-family homes in 72.5% of U.S. counties in 2021.

Buying a condo vs. a single-family home

The process of buying a condo differs from that of a single-family home in a few key ways.

One menaninful difference is that many condominium homes cannoy be purchased using government-backed loans such as Federal Housing Administration loans or Veterans Affairs loans. In...

The 4 Most Costly Dangers of Buying a Foreclosure - and How To Avoid Them

Are you considering buying a foreclosed home, or a home that has been repossessed by a mortgage lender? If so, you're not alone. Purchases of foreclosed homes are up more than 150%, according to a recent 2022 U.S. foreclosure report.

Many homebuyers are tempted to buy a foreclosure because it’s seen as a way to essentially get a great home at a bargain price. But the process is more complicated than it may appear—and that seemingly cut-rate deal may not save you as much money as you anticipated.

Here’s the 411 on buying a foreclosure, what the purchase entails, and the risks you should watch out for so you don’t end up with a money pit on your hands.

How to find and buy a foreclosure...

6 Telltale Signs You're looking at a Cheaply Flipped Bathroom

A well-designed bathroom in a newly renovated home can woo just about any buyer. It's hard not to fall for a bathroom outfitted with a new toilet, tub, and tile because - in most instances, it is safe to assume that your bathroom will be fully functional and free of problems for years to come.

But behind those flawless new fixtures and finishes may be hiding ugly truths about the quality of the bathroom renovation. Worst case scenario? You’re looking at a cheap flip.

A cheaply flipped bathroom is usually the result of hasty workmanship or a money-saving strategy from cash-strapped owners. In the business of home flipping, the quicker you can get the property remodeled and sold, the more successful you’ll be. But renovations take time, and some bathroom updates such as plumbing, painting, and tile laying can’t be rushed.