All posts by J.R.
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April 5, 2018

Four Tips for Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home is a huge step. Realtors can make this easy. Or not.

I know the principle well. When my wife and I bought our first home almost a year ago, we were on our second real estate agent. The first time around our search felt taxing, mainly because our real estate agent, who we met at an open house, had a very low view of most flips. At the time, flips were just about all we could afford for the home size we wanted.

At every turn, the agent was ready to give us a horror story about how clients ran into big problems in the weeks – even days – following the purchase of a renovated home.

Eventually, we had enough. I broke up with the agent via a [...]

 
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March 9, 2018

Watch for These Four Red Flags When You’re Reading a Home Listing

Looking at home listings is the dating-app version of buying a house. You blitz through dozens of profiles, mentally swiping left and right until you’ve got your list narrowed down to a few favorites. You read through the profiles a few times to assess the good and bad, then email a few requests to the real estate agent to set up a meet-and-greet with the Colonial you’ve been eyeing.

Unfortunately, that first date with your prospective home can be vastly different than what you anticipated. The strategically shot photos and frequent use of “vintage” in the listing end up hiding the home’s glaring weaknesses – dark rooms, cracked concrete, pet [...]

 
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February 7, 2018

Six Things You Can Do to Your Home to Help It Sell This Spring

Realtors agree: Spring is the busy season for buying homes. Once May rolls around, families have done their research, visited a countless number of open houses and have narrowed down their initial list to one or two homes. What puts one over the top?

According to real estate experts across the country, it’s a combination of small things you do to your home that make it a desirable property during the spring months. If you’re ready to put your home on the market, don’t let any potential buyer set foot in your home without first checking out our list of six tips for preparing your home for a spring sale.

#1: Identify small improvements you can make in each [...]
 
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January 16, 2018

Contractors You Can Count On: Five Tips From the Experts

I knew a couple who bought a new home and, after a few years, decided they wanted to make some upgrades to the kitchen and dining room floors, as well as upgrade the existing fireplace with some tile. They found a contractor who promised he could do both jobs. Impressed, no doubt, with his expertise and pricing, the couple hired him. And it was a disaster. The flooring work was shoddy and the tile work had some serious flaws. And, come to find out, the contractor wasn’t licensed to do the work that he did.

These are the kind of horror stories all homeowners hope to avoid; nobody wants to lose out on thousands of dollars and a much-needed upgrade because they chose a [...]

 
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January 11, 2018

Four Questions You Should Always Ask When Buying a Flipped Home

Buying a flipped home is nothing unusual. The emergence of what seems like dozens of home renovation shows have turned flipping into somewhat of a sensation. Celebrity investors gobble up dilapidated homes, work their magic and present a finished product free of flaws and overflowing with excellent design.

But, that’s not how it always works out. For every high-quality flip, there’s bound to be a home rife with cut corners and shoddy workmanship. When my wife and I bought our first home this past May, the first real estate agent we used told us horror story after horror story of unknowing clients buying flipped homes, only to be hammered with unexpected – and [...]

 
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September 26, 2017

5 Roadblocks for Freelancers Getting Mortgages

Freelancing is a thing, there’s no dispute about that. As more of us leave the 9-5 world to create our own companies, we’re encountering a litany of difficulties when it comes to taxes, health care and, perhaps the toughest of them all, mortgages. Being a freelancer myself and having secured a mortgage earlier this year, I know the pains and roadblocks waiting for you as you take the first steps to pre-qualify for a mortgage and go through the financial gauntlet that is the home-loan application. So to help ease your process, I’ve generated a list of five different mortgage roadblocks freelancers can face, many of which are based on my own recent experience of being [...]

 
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August 31, 2017

Five Expert Tips for Handling Homeowner’s Insurance Claims After a Disaster

As the last of Hurricane Harvey’s rains pelt an already waterlogged Houston and its surrounding communities, homeowners are no doubt taking the first steps in filing insurance claims on their damaged homes and property. Exactly how homeowners should navigate this claims process is information that’s more pertinent now than ever, so we’ve reached out to experts to find out five solid tips you should keep in mind as you begin the claims process.

Your Insurance Agent Should Be Your First Call

Lisa Lindsay has been in the insurance industry for more than three decades and she’s the executive director of Private Risk Management Association, a collaborative [...]

 
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August 29, 2017

Four Things to Remember When You Use a State Bond Program for Your Mortgage

The days when consumers could offer up a 20% down payment are long gone now. In fact, the National Association of Realtors estimates that the average down payment in 2016 was right around 11%. But even 11% can seem out of reach to homeowners, especially when you consider the average price of a purchased home in December 2016 was $390,100. At that price, the average down payment would be $42,911, which, for most of us, seems like a pretty intimidating amount of money.

I know that intimidation well; my wife and I went through the home buying process for the first time earlier this year. Luckily, Florida had a state bond program designed specifically to help homeowners pay for [...]

 
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February 16, 2017

The 5 Best Credit-Friendly Cities to Start a New Family

If you want to live in a city known for its great credit scores, you better bundle up. This past winter, credit bureau Experian released their 2016 State of Credit report. The study listed the 10 cities with the best average credit scores in the country. Some were small towns and others were big cities—most were in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

The scores of the top 10 cities started at Madison, Wisconsin’s 702 and topped out at Mankato, Minnesota’s 708.

A little extra research into these scores revealed incomes tended to be higher in these cities, but, based on the research we’ve done, we know that credit scores have a lot to do with on-time payments and [...]

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