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If you are in hot pursuit of your dream home, it is important to do everything you can to gain a leg up on the competition. That way, you can acquire your ideal residence as quickly as possible.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you gain a competitive advantage over your homebuying rivals.

1. Keep Track of the Local Housing Market

The top houses sell immediately, and as such, you may need to act fast to find and purchase your dream residence. If you keep track of the local housing market, however, you will be better equipped than other buyers to instantly acquire a house that suits you perfectly.

Monitor the housing market in cities and towns where you want to reside. Then, if you find a house you may want to buy, don't hesitate to set up a showing. And if you like what you see, you should submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Entering the housing market with pre-approval for a mortgage usually is a good idea. Because if you know how much you can spend on a residence, you can tailor your house search accordingly.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. Find out what mortgage options are available, and learn how different types of home financing work. Next, you can select a mortgage that enables you to begin your house search with a budget in hand.

Of course, if you have any concerns or questions about home financing, you should address them right away. If you speak with mortgage specialists at a bank or credit union, you can get the insights you need to make an informed mortgage selection.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker, particularly for a homebuyer who is shopping for a residence in a fierce housing market. Typically, a real estate agent will work with a buyer to craft an in-depth property buying strategy. A real estate agent and homebuyer then will work together to put this plan into action and streamline the property buying journey.

In addition, a real estate agent offers guidance at each stage of the homebuying cycle. He or she first will help you hone your home search to a select group of cities and towns. A real estate agent next will keep you informed about houses that become available that match your homebuying criteria. If you find a house you want to purchase, a real estate agent will help you submit an aggressive property buying proposal. And if your offer to buy a home is accepted, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to finalize your house purchase.

As you get ready to pursue your dream residence, you should devote plenty of time and resources to prepare. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can prep for the homebuying journey, gain a competitive advantage over rival buyers and accelerate your house search.


If you have a lot of items that you need to move from one address to another, it may be tempting to try to complete your relocation as quickly as possible. However, when it comes to moving day, it pays to take a slow, steady approach.

Ultimately, you should try to plan plenty of breaks throughout moving day. There are many reasons why it can be beneficial to schedule regular moving day breaks, including:

1. You can help your moving team stay focused.

Let's face it – even the most diligent person can get tired of moving big, heavy boxes. Fortunately, regular breaks enable an individual to sit down, relax and regain the necessary strength to complete a successful move.

When it comes to moving day, regular breaks can help all members of a moving team stay on track. Even providing moving team members with a few minutes each hour to grab a beverage or snack can deliver long-lasting benefits. In fact, with regular moving day breaks in place, moving team members may gain extra motivation to work hard and do the best job possible.

2. You can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

Over the course of moving day, a moving team can become tired and exhausted. Without rest, moving team members risk making costly mistakes as well.

On moving day, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you provide your moving team with regular breaks, you can reduce the risk of moving day accidents and injuries.

3. You can enjoy both work and play.

Moving day can be tough on all parties involved, so why not try to inject a little bit of fun along the way? Thankfully, regular breaks can provide a moving team with the support it needs to get through a stressful experience.

For example, you may want to consider hosting a pizza party during a moving day lunch break. This celebration gives moving team members the opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch, converse with their peers and, perhaps most important, earn a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of moving day.

You also can provide lots of delectable snacks and tasty beverages that a moving team can enjoy during breaks. These treats will help a moving team maintain its energy levels and remain sharp.

If you need extra assistance on moving day, don't hesitate to hire a moving company, either. This business employs courteous, professionally trained specialists who understand the ins and outs of moving. As such, a moving company can help you seamlessly navigate all stages of the moving process.

Lastly, if you need help as you prep for moving day, it never hurts to contact a local real estate agent. In addition to helping you buy or sell a house, a real estate agent can put you in touch with the best moving companies in your area.

Schedule regular breaks during your move – you'll be glad you did. With these breaks in place, you can increase the likelihood of a successful transition from one address to another.


After you submit an offer on a home and complete a property inspection, there may be only a short amount of time until you close.

Ultimately, it pays to prepare for closing day. If you start planning for your home closing today, you can identify and address any potential problems.

To better understand how to get ready for a home closing, let's take a look at three questions to consider before your closing.

1. What needs to get done before my closing date?

Your closing date may be a few weeks away, but time moves quickly, particularly for a homebuyer who wants to get into a new residence as quickly as possible. Fortunately, homebuyers who understand what needs to get done prior to a closing can plan accordingly.

Typically, a homebuyer will need to secure homeowners insurance and title insurance before closing on a house. Insurance companies are available to provide information about both types of insurance. If you reach out to these companies immediately, you can guarantee that your home and personal belongings will be covered against loss or damage.

You'll need to contact utilities providers as well. That way, you can ensure that your gas, electric and other utilities are good to go as soon as you close on your home.

2. How much are my monthly mortgage payments?

You know that you've been pre-approved for a mortgage. However, if you don't know how much that you'll be paying for your home each month, you'll certainly want to find out sooner rather than later.

Monthly mortgage payments can add up quickly, particularly for homebuyers who fail to budget properly. If you know exactly how much that you'll be paying each month for your home, you can effectively map out a budget.

3. What do I need to bring to my closing?

Homebuyers are required to bring a government-issued ID to a closing. In some instances, you may need to provide a certified or cashier's check to cover assorted closing costs as well.

If you are unsure about what to bring to a home closing, it often helps to consult with a real estate agent. In fact, this housing market professional can help you seamlessly navigate all stages of the homebuying cycle.

Prior to a home closing, a real estate agent is happy to respond to any concerns or questions that you may have. This housing market professional will explain how the home closing process works, how long the process generally takes to complete and, perhaps most important, when you'll receive the keys to your house.

A real estate agent also goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide assistance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she can help you compare and contrast a broad range of houses, submit a competitive offer on a home and ensure that you can discover your dream residence in no time at all.

Get ready for a home closing – consider the aforementioned questions, and you can prep for your closing date.


A bathroom renovation represents a major decision, especially for those who plan to sell their homes in the near future.

Ultimately, there are many questions to consider before you embark on a bathroom renovation, including:

1. When do I plan to list my home?

Consider your home selling timeline – you'll be glad you did. If you understand when you'd like to list your residence, you can plan home improvement projects accordingly.

If you intend to list your home in the next few months, there is plenty of time to overhaul your bathroom if necessary. Or, if you want to sell your home as soon as possible, a bathroom renovation may slow you down.

2. Is a bathroom renovation necessary?

Although your bathroom may seem small and messy at times, only minor bathroom upgrades may be needed to transform your ordinary bathroom into an exceptional one.

Performing an extensive bathroom cleaning will enable you to eliminate shower scum, wipe down a bathroom countertop and enhance the bathroom floor. Plus, cleaning a bathroom often represents a fast, easy and cost-effective alternative to a major bathroom overhaul.

Furthermore, a home appraisal may help you better understand your house's strengths and weaknesses. After this appraisal is finished, you can identify problem areas in your home and determine whether a bathroom renovation is a priority.

3. How much will a bathroom renovation cost?

The cost of a bathroom renovation may range from hundreds to thousands of dollars based on the size of your bathroom, the renovations that are needed and other factors. As such, you'll want to evaluate the cost of a bathroom renovation to determine how the project may impact your property's value.

Meet with several bathroom renovation experts. That way, you can receive multiple bathroom renovation estimates to see what it will cost to enhance your bathroom's appearance.

Also, you may want to consider do-it-yourself (DIY) bathroom improvements. A DIY bathroom renovation can be rewarding because it will enable you to learn new skills and revamp your bathroom's appearance on your own. At the same time, you'll want to ensure that any bathroom upgrades you complete are done safely and effectively.

Still unsure about whether you should perform a bathroom renovation? Discuss your concerns and questions with a real estate agent, and you may be able to gain unparalleled insights into whether a bathroom renovation is worth your time.

A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market. He or she can help you assess the pros and cons of a bathroom renovation. As a result, you can make informed decisions about a bathroom renovation and other home improvement projects.

In addition, a real estate agent can serve as an expert guide along the home selling journey. This housing market professional can help you get your home ready and ensure it will generate plenty of interest from property buyers as soon as it becomes available.

Take the guesswork out of a bathroom renovation – consider the aforementioned questions, and you can decide whether a bathroom renovation is right for you.


If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.

This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.

In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.

Does the FHA issue loans?

Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.

Will I have to make a down payment?

With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.

What are the benefits of an FHA loan?

The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:

  • You can qualify with a low credit score

  • You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages

  • Your closer costs will be less expensive

Where do I apply for an FHA loan?

You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.

Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?

There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.

Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?

No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.

How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?

You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.

If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.

What information will I need to apply?

You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.

I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?

Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.




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