If you’re ready to sell or buy a home, you will need a competent real estate agent to guide you through the process. With so many agents out there, how do you know which one will be the best for you? Much like dating, you may have to try out different people to find an agent who “clicks” with you. Read on to learn how you can find a good match.

Most real estate agents will have an online presence in some way, whether they have a profile on their realty page or are active on social media. Read the ratings of several agents who pique your interest. If the reviews are generally positive, that’s a strong indication that they have the skillset of a strong salesperson. Searching for agents on real estate sites is a quick and easy way to pinpoint local representatives and to request more information on their services. Some reputable sites to begin your search include Realtor.com and Zillow.

Your friends and family members may be the best source for getting recommendations on which agent to choose. There is nothing more valuable than a word-of-mouth appraisal, and a real-life referral will give you more detail than any online review can. Other agents are also a rich source for referrals. If you’re interested in a niche market or are moving to an unfamiliar area, contact your previous agent and see what connections they have.

As a client, you have every right to interview potential agents to find out more about what they have to offer. It’s wise to interview at least three to build a pool of candidates. Being able to meet face-to-face will allow you to ask detailed questions about their experience and get a feel for their personality. Make sure you discuss how they usually communicate with clients; an agent that primarily emails might not work for you if you prefer to text. Additionally, feel free to ask for and follow up with their references. During the buying and selling process, you will be frequently interacting with your agent, so your compatibility with them should not be overlooked.

Another good way to meet real estate agents is to attend open houses. Going to open house events will allow you to assess how the agent interacts with potential buyers and how knowledgeable they are about the house they’re showing. You’ll be able to see them in action and decide whether you would want to work with that person. Many people find their next agent at an open house, so give it a try!

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed or lost when trying to find a real estate agent. There are several ways to weed out those who might not be a good fit for you, though you will need to do some research to discover whose personality and expertise will fit your needs. A reliable agent is indispensable regardless of whether you are buying or selling; you’ll be glad to have a consultant by your side.

If you have any questions or want more information about finding the right real estate agent, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying or selling process, click here to get started!

If you’re ready to buy a home, you should prepare to have an earnest money deposit. This can be an extremely important part of the homebuying process as it essentially lets a home seller know how serious you are as a buyer. So, what is earnest money?

An earnest money deposit, otherwise known as a good faith deposit, is a sum of money that you pay to the seller to let them know you are ‘earnest’ and will follow through on the contract. It is the closest thing to being able to ‘put your money where your mouth is.’ The money doesn’t go directly to the seller but will be held in escrow or a trust by a third-party who holds all finances during the transaction until the sale is finalized and complete. Once the sale is complete, the deposit will go towards your down payment or closing costs, so no additional money is necessary.

The amount of earnest money is not a set amount and will vary based on the market. Typically, it is about 1-3% of the purchase price of the home, but it ultimately depends on the seller. In a buyer’s market you can expect to put down a smaller deposit, however,  in a seller’s market you could be going up against multiple bids so a larger deposit will likely be required. If desired, you can try to negotiate the amount down.

You can receive your earnest money back if the sale doesn’t go through, but it depends on why it didn’t. If you have the right contingencies, or conditions, in the contract and the seller doesn’t meet them, you can get your money back. For example, if the seller agreed that the home appraisal will match the sale price, but it comes back lower, you can back out of the deal. If you decide that you no longer are interested in the house or if you fail to meet the timeline specified in the contract, the seller has the right to keep your money. That’s why it is so important you’re completely serious and ready to purchase the home when you submit the deposit.

To learn more about earnest money, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

If you’re ready to sell your home, you don’t need to wait until the spring just because that’s the more popular time. There are plenty of benefits to selling in the off season, even a few that can be monetary. Here are our top 5 reasons for why winter is a good time to sell your home.

Low Inventory means Less Competition

Since spring is the most popular season to sell a home, that means the housing market is packed with plenty of houses for buyers to choose from. When the market slows down in the winter, your home will be one among a few. This gives you the opportunity to not only sell your home faster, but also to sell above your asking price because buyers will be competing against each other over the low inventory.

Selling House in Winter

Year-end Bonuses

Many potential buyers have been waiting to purchase a home or upgrade until they have enough money saved. Year-end bonuses and other financial payouts could have provided them with the down payment they need.

Motivated Buyers

With the ability to house-hunt online, cold weather will keep people inside. If you have potential buyers attend your open house, it’s safe to assume they are serious about purchasing. This means you will waste less time on buyers who aren’t ready to pull the trigger and are ‘just looking’ to see what’s out there. These motivated buyers are more likely to be pre-approved and can put down a serious offer.

Selling in Winter


Early winter is the most popular time for companies to do corporate relocation. Some buyers might be moving for a job and need to find a home quickly. Therefore, they don’t have the luxury to take their time when house-hunting. If they find a home that meets their requirements, they will be ready to buy right away.


Depending on where you live, you might experience typical winter weather – lots of snow. While it might not be fun to deal with, it can help you by keeping your landscaping maintenance to a minimum while trying to sell. Just make sure your drive/walk-ways are clear and safe to walk on. The harsh weather also allows potential buyers to see how your home handles it. Whether the snow has accumulated or is melting away, buyers can look for any potential issues they might not have seen if buying in later months.
Bonus: You can light up the fireplace!

Don’t let group mentality get the best of you and make you feel as if you must wait until the spring to sell your home. Take advantage of the slower season and reap the rewards that may come. Keep these 5 reasons in mind when weighing the pros and cons or evaluating the circumstances of why you need to sell.

If you have any questions or want more information about the home selling process, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

Whether it’s time to down/up-size or your job requires you to move, buying a new house can be exciting. However, that doesn’t mean selling your current home will be easy. You might not realize how strong your emotional connection really is until you start the home selling process. Here are a few ways to help you handle the emotions of selling your home.

It is important to make sure you are 100% ready to move. Therefore, you should start preparing for the emotional side of home selling before your home hits the market. The earlier you start to work through your feelings, the smoother the process will be. This will allow you to evaluate your feelings and potentially realize that maybe you aren’t ready. The last thing you want is to do is get to closing and change your mind. Remind yourself of the reasons you have chosen to sell your home. Has your family outgrown the space, are you following a job, or is it time to downsize? Whatever it may be, you decided it was time to move on for a reason.

After accepting why you need to move, take some time to grieve. You are leaving a home full of memories. It is sad you might be leaving the first place you bought with your spouse or the place your child took their first steps, but it is important that you look beyond those memories and try to detach yourself. It will be a lot easier for you to sell a house, rather than a home. Removing your family pictures and other personal mementos will make it seem less like home to you and will allow potential buyers to more easily picture themselves in the house.

Emotions of Selling

Prepare yourself for your life to become a lot more hectic. You will find your schedule changing to accommodate open houses, as well as having to keep on top of keeping everything clean and tidy. The housing market can be unpredictable, so there is no telling how long you will have to keep this up before your home is sold. It can become tiring but is vital to getting your home sold.

It is recommended that you don’t stick around when your home is open for showings. Not only could it damper the experience for the potential buyers, but it leaves open opportunities for your feelings to be hurt. Potential buyers might not give their honest opinion of the home at the chance they could offend you. On the other hand, if they do, you might not like what you hear and could take it personally. Buyers are there to evaluate your home and have their own ideas of how a house should look. Don’t take offense or be surprised if some buyers nit-pick and are extremely critical of little details. It’s better for everyone if the seller isn’t present.

Overall, don’t be surprised if selling your home has a much larger emotional toll on you than expected. If you are prepared to go through the emotions, you’ll get through and can enjoy the adventure of your new home.

If you have any questions or want more information about the home selling process, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

Pet owners often face difficulties when going through the home selling process. Pets can be cute and friendly, but they also cause distraction or even make your home unappealing to potential buyers. If you’re a pet owner currently selling your house, or planning to put it on the market, here are some helpful tips to sell your home.

Give your pet a vacation: During the home showing process, temporary relocation by letting a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor to watch your pet(s) should be top priority. This will allow for your home to be pet-free, stay clean, and eliminates the risk of any messes or damage. And it will make your life easier and your home easier to sell.

Have pet-free showings: If you don’t want to relocate your pet, just make sure they are out of the house when you are showing. While many potential buyers might be as big a pet lover as you, there are many who are not. There are allergies to consider, the chance for your pet to attempt an escape, small children who might be just a little too curious, and the unpredictable nature of your pet. Even if your furry friend has never shown signs of aggression, a home showing involves many new people invading their territory. It’s better to not take a chance. You can be held liable if someone is injured by your pet—which could get expensive. To avoid all possible problems, it’s best to make sure your home is completely pet-free during all showings of your home.

If you can’t bear to part ways or cannot find someone to watch your pet, either crate them or keep them confined to an area of your home. Be sure to tell your real estate agent and any potential buyers where your pet is located. It cannot be emphasized enough that at no point during a showing should your pet be wandering free!

Repair damage: Make repairs to any areas of your home that have been damaged. Pets can be brutal on carpets, hardwood floors, doors, and even the walls. Repairing any problem areas can get pricy, but your potential buyers will thank you. Your home will look much more attractive and appealing without claw marks or chewed up doorways. You’ll find the costs were worth it for the value you get for your home.

Remove pet odors and stains: It’s your home, so you’ve probably gone “nose-blind” to the pet smells. Those potential buyers certainly aren’t, so be sure to try and rid your home of any pet odors and smells. It might be easy to hide a litterbox, but it can be much harder to try to rid your carpet/flooring of past accidents. If you’ve done everything in your power and nothing seems to work, consider hiring a professional cleaning service (which might be a good investment regardless of pets!). Reptile tanks and cages should be regularly cleaned if they cannot be easily removed or hidden. Potential buyers will remember what they see and smell, so try to make your home squeaky clean!

Clean the yard: Don’t let your potential buyers step in poop! Go around your yard to find all unwanted items and fill in any holes. Make sure waste is disposed of in a secure bin or away from your home so there are no unpleasant odors. Nice yards can be a huge selling point for prospective buyers, so it is vital to have your yard looking the best it can.

Leave no trace: Like most pet lovers, your collection of pet supplies can be a lot. Gather up all your leashes, collars, brushes, toys, funny costumes, bowls, etc., and put them out of sight. Potential buyers don’t want to see clutter when touring your home. There are probably a few items that are impossible to hide, and that’s okay. Just make sure the items are clean and attractive—no ratty beds or shredded toys. Clean up as much pet hair as you can find; give your furniture and floors a good deep cleaning. Potential buyers will probably figure out there are pets that live in your home, but they will certainly appreciate your efforts!

Selling a home with pets can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Don’t let potential buyers walk away because you didn’t prepare for your home showcase. Keeping your home clean and pet-free will have all parties involved safe and happy.

If you are ready to sell your home and start shopping for a new one, click here or contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators to get started today!

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency offers a lot of benefits: lower energy bills, lower environmental impact, and even increased home value. This Earth Day consider some of these energy-saving tips for your home that will save you money and reduce your environmental footprint.

Replace Your Light Bulbs

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household spends about 5% of its energy budget on lighting. If you haven’t switched to CFL or LED light bulbs yet, now is the time to do it. These bulbs use 75-80% less energy than incandescent light bulbs. Energy-efficient light bulbs will pay for themselves over time, and you won’t have to sacrifice brightness or light quality.

Clean (or Replace) Your Air Conditioner

Homeowners in the U.S. spend about $11 billion every year on home cooling. By switching to a high efficiency air conditioner, you can cut your air conditioning energy use by 20-50%! If a new air conditioner isn’t in the budget this year, make sure to properly maintain your current one. Check your air filters once a month and replace them as needed. If you have central air conditioning, remember to inspect your ductwork and make sure it’s properly sealed and connected. Click here for more energy-saving air conditioning tips.

Use Appliances Efficiently

Appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and washing machines make up about 13% of your energy costs. Check your refrigerator’s temperatures. The recommended temperature for your refrigerator is around 35°-38° F. The recommended temperature for your freezer is 0° F. Also, washing your clothes in cold water can save on water heating costs. Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full before you turn them on, to avoid wasting water. Click here for more tips on using your household appliances efficiently.

Reducing your home’s energy use will help you save money on your heating, water, and electricity bills. It can also help you get more money for your house when it’s time to sell. Homes with energy efficient features have resale values about 9% higher than similar homes without these features. If you’re interested in moving or refinancing soon, talk to one of our licensed Loan Originators today to get started.

Selling your home is hard. Such an arduous process can take weeks, if not months, even in the preliminary stages of house preparation. Indeed this paints an ominous picture of the whole experience; but not to worry, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

You may be wondering, is there a way to make home selling any easier? Is there a course of action that would constitute a much less hair-graying experience? The following tips might help you to prepare your home to sell, and consequently sell it quicker.

Here are 6 tips on how to get your home ready to sell:

Let There Be Light

Natural lighting and lighting fixtures

One of the best things you can do to present your house is to rip down those curtains and setup interior lighting. Natural sunlight combined with good interior lighting feels welcoming and engaging to potential buyers. It will also open up the rooms, making them appear more spacious and attractive. Here is a link to some tips regarding interior lighting.


De-personalizing your “home” to make it their “house”

Even though it is hard to admit, your home is slowly but surely becoming less of your “home” and becoming more a “house” on the market for another buyer. You may have to consider removing such items as: family photos, heirlooms, personalized touches, knickknacks, etc. By removing these items, you will enable the potential buyers to picture themselves living in that space. Then they are able to visualize their own possible memories and experiences. This could play a huge factor in their desire to move forward in the deal.

Floor Them

Pave the way with stunning flooring

Beautiful floors can be crucial to displaying your house properly; but at the same time, you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg (or lose one) replacing all the flooring in your house. Nor do you have the time. Try to clean and salvage what you already have (polishing up hardwood floors, shampooing carpets and area rugs, replace cracked tiles, etc.) to save time and money. If necessary, be willing to replace the flooring in certain rooms that may be outdated or dilapidated. Check out this link on how to clean certain types of floors.

Something Smells Fishy

Don’t let remnants of food, smoke, or pet odor linger

We all have things in our house that emit malodorous scents. It could be a pet, fridge, sink, or even a person. Regardless of what it is, do what you need to do to clear out the smell and replace it with a fragrant substitute. There’s no need to be embarrassed, but the fact is that it will affect the buyer’s impression of the house. This is often something that can be easily addressed. Here’s how.

Curb Appeal

Don’t forget the exterior of your house

The outside of the house is the very first thing potential buyers will see. All the more reason why curb appeal is crucial to the selling process. You don’t have to go crazy and dig up your entire yard, planting exotic trees and garden gnomes, or add a pool or garage. There are some very simple things you can do to enhance the external portion of your house and yard to carry it from decent to stellar. Here are some great ideas of how to do this.

An Empty Canvas

Leave the walls a neutral color

The goal here is to wipe the walls and provide a clean slate for the buyers to imagine their possibilities. When walls are already painted in very specific colors, they may look nice and presentable, but it could potentially lock the buyers into a particular look and feel that they may not desire. It proves difficult for the buyer to picture it any other way. It’s “better safe than sorry” in this case. Touch up the walls if there are marks, chips, or stains. Even consider repainting the walls with fresh coats of very neutral shades or off-whites. Now, if you think that there is only one shade of off-white to choose from, think again.

Though there are probably a hundred more tips that could be offered, hopefully you were able to gain some new insight on how to prepare your house to sell with these 6 tips. These tips can help speed up the home selling process and make the entire experience a little less stressful.

If you are looking to sell your home, be sure to click here to contact one of our Licensed Mortgage Loan Originators today to learn about what mortgage loan is right for you.