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As a homebuyer, it is important to set high expectations. At the same time, a homebuyer must act reasonably, or he or she risks missing out on a golden opportunity to acquire the perfect residence.

Ultimately, becoming a reasonable homebuyer can be quick and easy – here are three tips to help you do just that.

1. Establish Realistic Expectations for the Homebuying Journey

The homebuying journey sometimes can take weeks or months to complete, and a homebuyer should plan accordingly. By doing so, a homebuyer can prepare for any potential homebuying pitfalls.

For example, a homebuyer may submit an offer on a home and receive a "Yes" from a home seller. But if a home inspector discovers myriad problems with a residence, a homebuyer may need to walk away from the house and restart the homebuying journey.

In the aforementioned scenario, a homebuyer may become frustrated and annoyed, and for good reason. Conversely, if a homebuyer understands the challenges associated with buying a house, he or she can plan for the best- and worst-case scenarios.

2. Search for Homes That Fall Within Your Price Range

Have you established a budget for your home search? If not, you may wind up focusing on houses that you won't be able to afford.

Get pre-approved for a home loan – you'll be glad you did. With a home loan in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a homebuying budget. Then, you'll be able to narrow your home search to houses that fall within your price range, thereby speeding up your search for the ideal residence.

It won't take long to get pre-approved for a home loan, either. In fact, if you meet with local banks and credit unions, you can instantly learn about a variety of home loan options.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Although you know that you want to buy a house, you have no idea what to expect during the homebuying journey. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can learn what it takes to stay calm, cool and collected as you search for a house.

A real estate agent is a housing market expert who takes pride in his or her work. As such, a real estate agent will be available to respond to your homebuying concerns and questions, ensuring that you can make an informed home purchase.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to eliminate homebuying hurdles.

For instance, a real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, guaranteeing that you can avoid the stress of negotiating a home price. Or, if you need help finding a qualified home inspector, real estate attorney or other local professionals, your real estate agent can provide honest, unbiased recommendations.

Be reasonable as you kick off your search for your dream residence. That way, you can seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey and improve your chances of acquiring a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.


Ultimately, there is no surefire amount that you should spend on a house. The real estate market varies in cities and towns nationwide, and as such, the prices of houses fall across a broad range. Also, the condition and age of a house – as well as a homebuyer's budget – may dictate how much an individual is willing to spend on a particular residence.

As you search for your dream house, it helps to plan ahead as much as you can. Because if you have a homebuying strategy in place, you can determine exactly how much you can spend to acquire your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get your finances in order before you kick off a house search.

1. Check Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, your credit score may have far-flung effects on your homebuying budget. And if you fail to review your credit score before you embark on a house search, you may miss out on an opportunity to purchase your dream house.

A low credit score may make it tough to get the mortgage you need to acquire your ideal residence. Thus, you may want to check your credit score and find ways to improve it before you begin a house search.

You won't have to break your budget to get a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). In fact, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the aforementioned credit bureaus. Request a copy of your credit report, and you can learn your credit score.

Of course, if your credit score is low, you can always improve it by paying off outstanding debt. Or, if you find errors on your credit report, contact the credit bureau that provided the report so that you can get these issues corrected.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage makes it easy to enter the housing market with a budget at your disposal. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage sooner rather than later.

Remember, banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists. Don't hesitate to ask these specialists about assorted mortgage options, and you can select a mortgage that perfectly matches your finances.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can make it simple to pursue your dream house. This housing market professional will help you narrow the price range for your dream house and ensure you can discover the perfect house without delay. Perhaps most important, a real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, ensuring you can get the best price on any home.

Ready to start a home search? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can simultaneously look for your dream house and avoid the risk of paying too much to purchase your dream residence.


Photo by Mostafa Safadel on Unsplash

The penthouse is the pinnacle of real estate in many markets -- and places like New York and Miami -- have plenty of options to choose from. It's easy to get caught up in great decor or fall in love with a view, but there are other considerations as well. Here's what to think about when you shop for a luxury penthouse unit. 

Expect to Pay  a Premium: Most penthouses are priced above similar sized units in the same building, so be prepared to spend a little more for that amazing view and those amenities. A single penthouse spanning the top floor will command more of a premium rate than one that shares the floor with one or more other units. 

You Can Still Negotiate: While a penthouse will command a higher price than any other unit in a specific building or location, you can and should negotiate the best deal. In cities with a glut of inventory in this price range, you may be able to secure a better price, simply by presenting the right offer. Your real estate agent can help you determine how flexible a price is and what fair market value is for a home you are considering. 

Inventory Impacts Price: In high-rise dense cities like New York, there are always penthouse properties available. Outside of cities, though, you may have fewer options  In vacation and resort areas with coveted views, there are only a small number of penthouse properties to begin with, and they are not all on the market at the same time. Act swiftly if a property you truly want becomes available to avoid missing out. 

Visit at All Hours: If you will live in the penthouse property, you should visit it during the day, at night and on weekends. Because this property is near the roof, it may also be near HVAC and elevator equipment -- these can get noisy when in heavy use. Newer penthouses have insulation and soundproofing, but older ones may not, so the home could be noisier than you expect when everyone else in the building is home. 

Is the view guaranteed? A building that faces the ocean and is directly on the beach will have a view that is not interrupted by future construction, but not all penthouses fit this description. You should be aware of zoning and building possibilities -- could a taller building be placed in front of yours -- disrupting your view? Your agent can help you discover if this nightmare scenario is a risk factor in any home you are considering. 

Buying a penthouse is different from other luxury property purchases, because the view and position of the home offer so much and contribute to the price. Be aware of the setup of the building and its location -- and be ready to move if a penthouse becomes available in a market with scant inventory. Your real estate agent can watch for new listings and help you be first in line to view new luxury properties as they arrive in the marketplace and ensure you don't miss out on the home of your dreams. 


Photo by Curtis Adams from Pexels

Zombie properties are homes that have been visibly abandoned but actual ownership has not. The term became popular in the housing industry during the 2007-08 housing crisis when people being unable to make their mortgage payments reached a catastrophic point.

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, a firm that tracks different types of real estate data, zombie properties made up about 3% of all foreclosures in the U.S. in October 2019. These homes can be a good buy, but there are some challenges you should be aware of before signing on the dotted line.

How Does a Property Become Classified as a Zombie Property?

A zombie property occurs when a homeowner is told they are being foreclosed upon, and they leave their home believing they must immediately vacate. The zombie scenario arises when a bank either abandons or inadvertently never completes the foreclosure process, and the house is left in limbo with no one caring for the property.

Zombie properties can be very lucrative investments because they are often able to be purchased at rock-bottom rates. The problem is there are some risks involved with buying this type of property because they’ve essentially been abandoned for often long periods of time which sets the condition for many unfortunate events to occur.

Homes Have Been Trashed

In many foreclosure situations, a home is already left in poor condition. In many cases, the homeowner couldn’t financially keep up with upkeep, or they’ve purposely destroyed the home before they left. Any of these problems or others are further exasperated in zombie situations because there is a high probability more destruction has been heaped up upon the original neglect or damage.

Squatters May Have Created Uninhabitable Conditions

Once a house is recognized as a zombie property, squatters or vandals often decide the property is fair game. They might simply come inside to be destructive, or they may use it for their own purposes.

  • House might be full of graffiti.
  • Trash is left behind, and some of it may be unsanitary or hazardous (i.e. dirty diapers or needles).
  • Space may have been used for illegal drug activity, including meth labs, which the latter can create serious health risks.
  • Open windows, doors, or busted plumbing may have created moist conditions and dangerous black mold.
  • Additionally, if vandals or squatters leave doors or windows open, animals, including feral cats might have taken up residence.

    Locating The Title Holder

    Once a homeowner has abandoned a property, they can be difficult to locate. Some may have gone off the grid or others have no clue they are still listed on the property deed. The name of the previous occupant who owned the home will need to be removed from the title so this will be a legal detail to address before a purchase can move forward.

    Purchasing a zombie property can be a very lucrative investment, but it’s essential to carefully evaluate the condition of the property before deciding to buy it. You might find the effort and expense involved in bringing it up to be habitable might be more than it’s worth.


    The process of buying a house may prove to be long and complicated. Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take before you pursue a home to streamline the homebuying cycle, and these include:

    1. Create a Homebuying Checklist

    It helps to start the homebuying process with a homebuying checklist in hand. This checklist will enable you to differentiate between home must-haves and wants, resulting in a fast, efficient homebuying journey.

    Think about what you require from a home. For example, if you need a house that is located close to your office in the city, you should include this information in your checklist.

    Also, if you want a house that features a built-in swimming pool, you can include this information in your homebuying checklist. But keep in mind that a swimming pool likely is a non-essential item. And if you find a home that is virtually perfect but lacks a swimming pool, it may still be a good idea to pursue this house.

    2. Establish a Budget

    How much can you afford to spend on a house? This question frequently plagues buyers as they proceed along the homebuying journey. Luckily, you can determine how much money is at your disposal if you develop a budget.

    To budget effectively, it helps to meet with local lenders. Banks and credit unions generally offer a wide range of mortgage options and can help you make an informed mortgage decision.

    In addition, it often helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage prior to entering the real estate market. Because if you have a mortgage, you can pursue houses that fall within a specific price range and reduce the risk of overspending to acquire your dream house.

    3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

    If you want to enjoy a quick, seamless homebuying experience, it is beneficial to have a homebuying expert at your side. Thankfully, real estate agents are available nationwide, and these housing market professionals will do what it takes to help you discover a great house at an affordable price.

    A real estate agent understands housing market patterns and trends and can help you plan ahead for a buyer's or seller's market. He or she will teach you about the real estate market and respond to your homebuying queries as well.

    Furthermore, a real estate agent acts as a guide throughout the homebuying journey. This housing market professional will set up home showings, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and help you finalize a home purchase. By doing so, a real estate agent will take the guesswork out of buying a house, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.

    When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to prepare. If you employ a real estate agent today, you can get the support you need to plan ahead for the best- and worst-case homebuying scenarios. That way, you'll be able to identify and address potential homebuying hurdles before they escalate.

    Ready to buy a house? Follow the aforementioned steps, and you can move closer to pursuing your dream residence.




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