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Buying a Home for less per Month than your Rent by the Numbers

Buying a Home for less per Month than your Rent by the Numbers

This statement always raises an eyebrow…or 10, when I say in this market, with just a moderate down payment, you can buy a home for less than what you pay in rent.

Buy a home for less than rent

This is how it comes out by the numbers:

Let’s take a $175,000 house in this market, assuming a 5% down payment.

Principal and Interest  @4.25 817.88
Taxes @1.25% 182.29
Insurance  100.00
Mortgage Insurance    81.74
Total     $1,181.88


Lets compare that to a reasonable rent payment in this market of $1,250. This is how we come to prove the statement that you can buy a home for less than your rent.

Even further, after the tax benefits of mortgage interest, and the doors which this immensely valuable deduction opens, the net effect means an amazing savings to the home buyer over renting.

For more information, check out HomesteadU

Tips for Picking a Real Estate Agent — Part II

Before Picking a Real Estate Agent

Picking a Real Estate Agent

In “Tips for Picking a Real Estate Agent — Part I,” we discussed the importance of doing your homework. Before you pick a real estate agent it helps to obtain a list of what they’ve listed and sold the past twelve months, to verify licensing and disciplinary action with state boards, to seek out agents who are the recipients of designation awards as well as those with the right credentials. In “Tips for Picking a Real Estate Agent — Part II,” we discuss additional tips for deciding on the most well-suited person to find or list your home.

Research an Agents Experience

There’s no substitute for experience. Picking the best real agent requires you to research how long the agent has been in business. This information may be obtained from the state licensing authority or by simply asking the agent. An agent who has been in business less than five years is learning on you which isn’t to your benefit. Look for an agent who is actively engaged in your area and in your price range. What you’re looking for is an agent’s knowledge of these two factors and whether or not they can demonstrate them. This shows you what kind of market presence they have.

Look at Current Listings

Another tip for picking a real estate agent is to look at their current listings. You can do this by checking out an agent’s listings online. You can look online in two places — the agency’s own site and Realtor.com. The Realtor.com website is a searchable online database that has compiled properties from the Multiple Listing Service. A website says a lot about a person or business. What you want is an agent who uses their website as an effective marketing tool. If they don’t use their website to effectively market themselves and their clients’ homes, then how will they market yours? An attractive presentation on the web is evidence that this agent cares and understands how important marketing properties is. When you’re on the agent’s website, look at their listings to see how closely they mirror the property you’re looking to buy or sell. Are the agent’s listed properties in the same area as yours? Are the properties in the same price range? The number of listings is important too. The agent should have enough listings to indicate a health business but not so many that you’ll just be a number.

Do Your Homework

Finally, be sure and ask potential real estate agents about other houses that are for sale nearby. A good agent will know about the properties available in your area off the top of his or her head. But before you ask them, be sure you’ve done your homework too. Familiarize yourself with a house in your area that’s recently sold or is currently for sale and ask the agent if he or she knows the property. A good agent should not only know about that particular property, but they should also be able to give you a few details. This will show that he or she knows the homes in your area and is a person who’s on top of the market.

Tips for Picking a Real Estate Agent — Part I

How to Pick a Real Estate Agent

How to pick a real estate agent

One of the most challenging parts of buying or selling a home is picking a good real estate agent. How do you know who’s good and who’s not? Can you rely on word of mouth or should youdo some investigating of your own? Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, there are things you can and should do to assess a real estate agent’s past performance in order to gauge their potential success for finding or selling your home. Here are some tips for picking a real estate agent.

Because we don’t typically have the information about real estate agents that we have about other service professionals, it helps to ask potential agents for a list of what they’ve listed and sold the last twelve months. Be sure to ask the agent if any of the clients listed will be pleased or disappointed before you begin making phone calls. When you speak with past clients ask what the asking price was and then what the sales price was. You’ll also want to ask how long their home was on the market. If you are selling your home, you’ll want to ask if the properties on the list are similar in price, location and other salient features to yours. What you should be looking for is an agent who specializes in the same type of home you’re selling.

Look up a Real Estate Agents Credentials

Another way to check a potential real estate agent’s background is to look up their licensing. There are boards that license and discipline real estate agents in every state. To find out if the person you’re considering is licensed and if they have experienced any disciplinary actions or complaints you’ll want to check with your state’s regulatory body. In some states, like Virginia, Arizona and California, this information is accessible through online databases.

Knowing how to avoid a real estate agent who has been disciplined is one thing but, how do you pick one that’s a winner? Look to the awards. Peer-given awards are huge endorsements. One that speaks mountains is the “Realtor of the Year” designation award. This is awarded by the local or state branch of the National Association of Realtors. These are agents who have been judged to be the best by their peers.

You wouldn’t select a brain surgeon to perform your heart surgery and the same is true when it comes to selecting a real estate agent. You want one with the right credentials. Real estate agents, like doctors, also specialize. When you see alphabet soup after an agent’s name, this indicated this person has taken additional classes and are specialized in certain areas. For example, an agent with CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) behind their name is someone who has completed additional training for handling residential real estate.

If you see 4ABR after their name, this means they have completed additional coursework to represent buyers in real estate transactions. They are an Accredited Buyer’s Representative. An agent with the SRES designation is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist who has completed training that allows them to better help buyers and sellers who are aged 50 and up. An agent with “R” behind their name is a member of the National Association of Realtors. This is an individual who has formally pledged to support the association’s code of ethics. Nearly half of real estate agents out there are realtors compared to one-third five years ago.

In “Tips for Picking a Real Estate Agent — Part II,” we discuss additional tips for deciding on the most well-suited person to find or list your home.

Home Improvement Projects Ideal for Labor Day Weekend

Plan ahead for the harsh weatherLabor Day Home Improvement

One of the best opportunities to do some home improvement projects to get your home ready for winter is Labor Day weekend. Having an extra day off from work gives you the extra time you need for projects that require more time. The trick is to plan ahead and focus on preparing your home for the harsh weather that winter brings.

If you yearn for BBQ on the last official weekend of summer, look no further than your crock pot. Buy a full slab of ribs on Thursday or Friday before the weekend hits. On Saturday morning get up early and brown the ribs in your oven. Once browned, cut them into separate pieces, place them in the crock pot on low with a bottle of your favorite sauce and simmer for 6-8 hours. When dinner rolls around you’ll have tender meat that falls off the bone and you won’t have to stand next to hot grill after working hard on other projects all day.

One of the best ways to prepare your home for winter is by cleaning the gutters or eaves. This protects your home from any water leaks which can cause roof damage and a wet basement. When gutters are full of leaves, branches and dirt, water pools and your home’s eaves is more prone to sagging, rusting and pulling loose from the house. When this happens water drains into your basement or into your ground floor, damaging drywall, floors and carpeting. Excess water causes mold, an even bigger and more costly mess to clean up.

To clean your home’s gutters you need a ladder and a good pair of gloves to protect your hands from the gutters’ sharp surfaces. This task can be done in as little as 30 minute to an hour depending on the size of your house. It’s best to position the ladder in one spot and clean the gutters from the roof rather than moving the ladder around the house, climbing up and down every time. Better to maneuver on your hands and knees from the top of your roof. Homeowners who experience vertigo, have a fear of heights or are prone to clumsiness should consider hiring someone to do this task.



Replace Door Trims or Weather Stripping

Another Labor Day weekend project that gets your home ready for winter and actually saves you money on your heating and cooling bills is replacing door trims or weather stripping. There are two types of weather stripping for doors. Look for sweeps for the bottom of the door and foam weather-stripping for the area around the door’s trim. Attach sweeps to the bottom of your doors with the screws provided. Be sure your door’s trim is clean as the foam strips have self-adhesive that require extremely clean surfaces in order to stick well.

A third Labor Day weekend project that also protects your home’s outdoor surfaces from the elements is outdoor painting. Grab your scrapers, brushes, rollers, primer and paint so you can protect your home’s siding, trim, doors and eaves before the weather gets bad. Paint is the best way to protect these surfaces before they require a more expensive repair or replacement later. When unprotected wood rots you face a much more expensive and labor intensive project.

A fresh coat of paint on your home’s fascia boards, soffits and under-hangs helps extend the life of your roof and adds more curb appeal and value to your home. When the boards that support your roof are well protected your roof will last longer. Labor Day weekend is also the time to paint or seal a deck or back porch. Textured paint and sealer makes walking on these surfaces when their wet or covered in snow that much safer.

A little bit of elbow grease goes a long way to protecting your home for the harsh weather winter brings. Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to do these home improvement projects.

Preparing Your Home for a Tornado – Part Two

Preparing your home for a tornado could be the difference between life and death for you and your family. In “Preparing Your Home for a Tornado Part I” we discussed steps to take before the storm hits. In Part II we discuss additional steps to take during and after the storm.

Find Immediate Shelter When you Hear the Sirens

Preparing Your Home for a Tornado

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where there are tornado sirens, find out what they sound like. When you hear tornado sirens you and your family should find immediate shelter, moving to an interior room, storm shelter or basement. You and your family should listen for tornado watches and warnings. A tornado watch is issued when conditions are right for tornado development in your area. Whether a severe thunderstorm watch or tornado watch has been issued, you should be aware of weather conditions in your area. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been seen or radar indicated the presence of a tornado in your area. Seek immediate shelter when a tornado warning has been issued.

Tornado emergencies are tornado warnings that are issued because a tornado has been spotted and is heading to a densely populated area. This was the case in Oklahoma City, OK two weeks ago. When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued you and your family should take precaution, staying indoors and watching for the possible development of tornadoes.

Prepare your home for a storm

You may not always be at home when tornado warnings and watches are issued. If you’re in a structure, move to the most interior room on the first floor or to the basement. Stay clear of windows and anything that could hit you like chairs and bookcases. Mobile homes and trailers offer little protection. Move away from these structures to more secure locations. If you are in your car, drive to the nearest shelter away from the storm. If you can’t make it there in time, keep your seat belt on, duck below and cover yourself with a blanket or a coat. Don’t hide under overpasses or bridges. These places will not protect you from flying debris. If you’re caught in an open field during a storm, duck as close as possible to the ground and cover your head. Once you’ve reached a secure location, wait until high winds have died down before you go outside.

If a tornado has touched down in your area, here’s a list of things to do to keep your family and your home more secure. Address your injured family members first. Wait out the storm and seek medical assistance. Next, shut off your utilities. Turn off your water, electricity and gas. Gas leaks are extremely dangers and can cause explosions or fires. If you suspect a gas leak, refrain from using a lighter if you’ve not already turned off your utilities. Before leaving your house, inspect it for structural damage that could harm your family. If any part of your home is not safe, you need to find different shelter. Families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed should seek an evacuation center. While evacuation centers often have supplies, it’s a good idea to bring whatever emergency supplies you can with you.

If you were fortunate that your home was spared, join in the rescue efforts or volunteer. Help your neighbors with the clean-up, removing hazardous objects with care, taking pictures for insurance companies. Follow public officials orders so you are making a positive contribution and not damaging the situation any further.

Preparing Your Home for a Tornado – Part One

You’ve seen the devastation caused by the tornado that touched down in Missouri last month. Weeks ago an F-5 tornado devastated Oklahoma City, OK just like the one that killed 161 people in Joplin, MO two years ago. With severe thunderstorms a common occurrence here in St. Louis, you know tornado warnings are not something to be taken lightly. You want to protect yourself and your family the best way you can. Here are some tips for preparing your home for a tornado. Continue reading “Preparing Your Home for a Tornado – Part One”

Attracting Buyers: Increasing Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Spring is the busiest real estate buying season and if your home is on the market you might be a little stressed wanting your home and your “curb appeal” to look amazing. With so much rain and cooler temperatures in the Midwest, it may be tempting to let the outside appearance of your home slide until the warmer and dryer weather comes. Here are some ways for attracting buyers and increasing your homes curb appeal despite the weather. Continue reading “Attracting Buyers: Increasing Your Home’s Curb Appeal”

Tips for Showing Your Home to Buyers

Good news. Your real estate agent just called with a buyer who would like to see your house. Trouble is, there’s only so much your real estate agent can do and it’s up to you to make your home as presentable and attractive as possible, with the goal of engaging the buyer emotionally. Here are some tips for showing your home. Continue reading “Tips for Showing Your Home to Buyers”

The Worst Home Fixes for the Money

With spring just around the corner, you find yourself watching home improvement shows in the evening, dreaming of the different ways to spend your home equity line of credit. After all, you’ll recoup what you’ve spent when you sell your house. Right? Don’t kid yourself. While prices and returns on home improvements vary regionally, there are certain projects that should be avoided. Continue reading “The Worst Home Fixes for the Money”