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January 2020

The Key Steps to Buying a House in 2020

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If you need to relocate because of a job change, or if you have to downsize, you may not have the choice of whether to buy a home this year or not. You may have always owned your home, you may feel that any housing dollars that are not building equity are merely wasted, or maybe you just don’t like renting. Since you are committed to buying property, we will analyze the trends that can make 2020 a more or less favorable year to make your purchase and the clear steps to buying a house.

Interest Rates

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Unless you just won the lottery, you’ll have to take out a mortgage loan to finance your purchase.

Since the Great Recession and housing meltdown that began in earnest in 2009, mortgage interest rates have fallen to slightly below four percent. President Trump knows that the state of the economy could determine his reelection, and he has been using his influence to keep interest rates low. Many pundits feel that the stock market will stay steady or keep climbing for the rest of the year and that interest rates will remain at historic lows.

If that happens, it will be advantageous to buy a home in 2020—at least from an interest rate perspective.

Steps to Buying a House: The Pricing

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The steps to buying a house can be confusing, but pricing doesn’t have to be. Rapidly rising housing prices are the rule in many United States areas with some municipalities reporting double-digit price increases. Since 2009 there have simply been less homes on the market because many homeowners are staying put, and when supply is stretched by demand, home prices rise. If the economy stays strong—and again, Donald Trump understands this well—home prices will continue to rise. 

Following these steps to buying a house at the top of the market is not your goal, but no one can tell when that top will occur. If you bought at the top of the market in Austin, TX in 2009, you’re in a different spot than if you had bought at the top of the market in Milwaukee, WI. 

When the recession was deepest, an Austin, TX downtown condo purchased for $155,000 might have temporarily lost up to $20,000 in value, but today that condo is worth $265,000. Some $120,000 Milwaukee condos quickly lost half of their 2009 value and have not recovered, so your equity positions in a recession are in a large part determined by where you buy.

Steps to Buying a House: Qualifying for Financing

Steps to Buying a Home and Interest Rate Information

So far 2020 has been a great time to get a mortgage. Rates are low and although it may never be as easy to get a mortgage as it was in 2007, it’s easier now than it was in 2011. Lenders aren’t quite as strict, and some are beginning to place less weight on commonly held debts like student loans. Unless a 2009-like bank crisis quickly appears—which is unlikely—2020 will continue to be a great year for obtaining financing.

Steps to Buying a House: The Technology

If you are considering new construction, 2020 is an excellent time to get into the housing market. New homes are smart, and from lighting to HVAC to security, the smart tech should be built into any new home you are considering. The best are fitted with fully automated systems available on a single device that allow you to control your new home from anywhere.

Steps to Buying a House: The Taxes

There is a cap on mortgage interest deductions that was not in place a few years ago. Also, the IRS says, “Your deduction of state and local income, sales, and property taxes is limited to a combined total deduction of $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately). You may be subject to a limit on some of your other itemized deductions also.” And while it may have been more advantageous to purchase a home in the past, we don’t foresee more generous real estate related tax deductions appearing again any time soon.

What about Cheaper Platforms?

The trend toward selling homes on national platforms like Redfin and Zillow with smaller commission costs will continue. CBS MarketWatch warns consumers that “there’s a drawback for consumers who do choose to go this route though: There’s a decent chance that the seller will offload their home for less than they would have gotten by offering it on the open market.” While this can be bad for the seller, it can be great for the buyer.

Always remember that sometimes external factors should not be the main reason you buy a home at a particular time. Even if the economy is in terrible shape, you may need to relocate and purchase a home. And, you may have to buy at the top of the market if it is absolutely necessary that you move. In these cases, understand that you should not look at your home as your primary investment, and you should then view your loan payment as a mere constant—the monthly amount it costs you to provide shelter for you and your family. 

If you are having problems qualifying for traditional financing, talk to our team at C4D. We are experts in getting good people into quality homes even if you have some credit issues.

Contact us today!

Home Staging Tips

Essential Home Staging Tips for a 2020 Sale

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Home staging is the process of preparing your house for viewings.  The better you are at creating the right impression, the quicker you will sell your home.

This is more than just making sure it is tidy, though this helps.  You are using all the advice and expertise available to showcase the strengths of your home – and seek to subtly hide any weaknesses.

What is Home Staging?

Home staging is more than putting your house on your market.  By staging your home, you understand that you are opening your home to strangers and you hope to get them to part with hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Consequently, you need to make the house look appealing and you need to sell a lifestyle to the visitors.  

As well as minimizing your possessions, cleaning up and generally making it look desirable, you need to add a few flourishes precisely as an actor would do during a play.  You want to use strategies that will evoke the emotions of your potential buyers. It’s important to work with your realtor to make these important decisions on staging, but let’s get into a few tips.

The Essential Home Staging Tips

The are many strategies for making your home more sellable.  Here are a few critical tips to get you started.

  1. Know your market.  You need to consider who will want to buy your home and maximize its appeal to this group.  If you are going to appeal to those who are city dwellers but are looking to relocate to the suburbs – how can you create a sense of a rural ideal they will have imagined? If the likely buyers are a family with children, then you need to show them where the kids will play safely.
  2. Remove the clutter. Decluttering is more than just tidying up. You need to clear out the messes that you have in your home. Your buyer will be looking for a sense of space and will need the room to see where they can place their furniture. The more things you have scattered around the room, the more it will look too small for the potential buyer. You may also want to buy someone in to do a deep clean of your kitchen and bathroom. The return on the investment of a deep clean of a bathroom is said to be huge during the sale process.  
  3. Add some homely touches. Although you want to offer something of a blank canvas, you also need to make the place seem like a home.  Real estate agents do not like selling empty properties, as it takes too much imagination for the visitor to see themselves living in the empty rooms. You could add some nice cushions on your bed, a few paintings to make a space feel bright, and then, you might suggest how the buyer could sink into this room after a hard day at work.
  4. Refresh the paintwork, clean the floor and wash the windows. First impressions make a significant difference to the buyer.  We all know curb appeal is huge for this matter. That said, when you enter the home, the walls are big sprawling spaces that have a considerable impact. Try to remove any scrapes or splashes of mud with a quick dab of paint. You should also make sure the floors are as clean as possible, as again, they have the most significant first impression of the viewer. Washing the windows is also essential. If light pours into your home, it will look more spacious – plus everything looks better bathed in natural light. Hiring a window cleaner could pay dividends in the speed of the sale as well as the amount offered on your home.
  5. Highlight how space is used. There are oddly shaped and weird spaces in everyone’s houses – it might be a space under the stairs or a small utility room. If you can show how the buyer could use this area of your home, you should show clearly how every inch of the space is useful. For example, you could quickly put a wine rack under the stairs and maybe use some form of quirky storage for shoes in the utility area. Your role is to demonstrate how your home can work for them.

The Key Message

Of course, you need to clean your home to make it easy to sell.  However, you are also presenting a lifestyle to the buyers.

Your job when staging your home is to give them a nudge towards a way of living that they desire. Maybe you should consider baking bread or putting out fresh coffee; make it memorable. This is the same principle but extended. Make it feel like their future home.

Top Tips For Landscaping On A Budget

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Anyone with experience in the world of design knows that landscaping is as important for setting the tone of your home as your interiors are.

Not only does the right landscaping give you a cozy oasis in your own yard, for family fun, or backyard get-togethers. The improvements to your curb appeal and added resale value of your home explains why you should take your landscaping seriously. But not everyone has the funds to hire a professional or tackle a huge exterior design project.

Luckily, we’ve got tips and tricks from the experts to save you money on your garden redesign

1. Make Landscaping On A Budget Part Of The Plan

The best way to save money is to plan ahead and budget before you start. If you’re a beginner when it comes to landscaping, it’s a good idea to tackle your backyard space one job at a time.

According to LandHub, “It’s still wise to know what you’re going for overall and set a reasonable budget for what you’re going to spend. Get the whole family involved, and work out what you’ll need the space for, and how you’ll use it to best effect. A cozy seating area here, a vegetable patch there, and rock garden in that corner, and together, you’ll craft the perfect space for your family, with a plan on how to carry it all out!”

2. Flex Your DIY Muscles

If you’re skilled at carpentry or gardening, cut costs by doing the bulk of the work yourself. If you’re new to DIY landscaping, there are plenty of resources available, from the internet to your local home and garden center.

They can advise you how to prune back stubborn shrubbery, which power tools you absolutely need to get the garden you want, and which are the best chainsaws for firewood, or log removal. You can even learn to build your own irrigation system, to ensure your plants always get the water they need to thrive.

3. Use Alternatives To Mulch

Speaking of your home and garden center; landscaping on a budget means avoiding expensive and ultimately pointless luxuries like store-bought mulch and plant food.

You can save money on mulch, by using natural mulch like grass clippings, leaves, discarded branches roots, and other garden debris. Instead of buying plant food and nutrient-rich soil, you can start a kitchen compost of plant matter, that will help keep your garden growing strong, and help you give back to the environment, without costing you anything.

4. Make Use Of Space: Go Vertical

Instead of spending money to clear the small corners of your garden, make better use of the space that’s easier to access, by going vertical. Like hanging shelving on an indoor wall, a trellis can help give you some privacy, and offer space for vine plants to grow up, instead of out. That means they won’t get trampled, or make the backyard feel scattered and crowded. Drawing the eye upward also helps you make the space feel bigger and more inviting.

5. Upcycle Where You Can

Even if you’re not a DIY expert, landscaping on a budget gives you a great opportunity to get creative. Upcycling glass bottles to make lanterns is a great way to get cheap lighting in your garden. Repainting old wooden chairs or tables for the backyard saves you money on furniture, and using an old tire as a hanging planter means it doesn’t end up in a landfill, and instead adds some rustic charm to your outdoor living space.

If you’ve completed a recent renovation, use the leftover wood to create quick and easy “bloom boxes” with a handful of wildflower seeds or your favorite herbs. These smaller boxes are a great way to utilize space, and also make great starter beds for delicate young shoots. Leftover terracotta or ceramic tile from a kitchen or bathroom job makes for great stepping stones to decorate a yard.

Visit flea markets and antique shops for quick and easy finds you can work with for those personal, creative touches that will make your outdoor space feel uniquely yours.

6. Plant Trees

Planting trees is more than just good for the environment. Trees offer a barrier between your yard and the weather.

Plant a tree as a focal point in your yard, or a row of small, hardy trees to act as a shield against high wind and rain. Plant smaller flowers and plants at the foot of the trees so you make the most of the ground cover and protection offered by the trees. This way the tree’s roots won’t crowd out other plants and flowers. Smaller trees like Dogwood or Witch Hazel work best in a smaller space, and a silver maple works best in urban areas with a medium-sized yard.

7. Don’t Overgroom Your Lawn

It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you’ve got a lawn and yard to show off, try not to get obsessed with the weeds. Weed and crabgrass killers can get expensive, and often have an adverse effect on the local wildlife. It’s better to use weed whackers and strimmers if you’re worried about weeds. Experts advise that you shouldn’t get too hung up about the odd dandelion or patch of long grass.

Long grass actually protects your garden from weeds, by providing more adequate shade and crowding out weed growth. Dandelions are inviting for butterflies and bees, which will help your garden. Keep your edges trimmed with a strimmer, and minimize cutting the grass. Stay away from the herbicides that kill crabgrass, and choose natural options, such as planting near shade and under cover of other plants.

Landscaping can be one of the most creative and rewarding aspects of design for your home, whether you’re a first-time buyer or a veteran homeowner. Your garden can be enjoyed by the whole family, and, though it takes some hard work, and a bit of DIY know-how, you can create a comfortable family space in the great outdoors, without breaking the bank.

best real estate blogs

16 Real Estate Blogs Every Realtor Should Read in 2020

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You worked hard to achieve your status in the real estate community, and you’re proud that you are a Realtor.

Your business education doesn’t stop there, though, and you need to keep abreast of the latest industry developments. One fast and painless way to stay on top of your ever-changing industry is to read real estate blogs, and we’ll make it easy for you. Check out our list of the best real estate blogs that you should read in 2020.


We are a MN contract for deed company that has mastered the art of difficult home financing. Our clients—many that have recent bankruptcies, foreclosures, job loss, medical bill or even tax issues—are looking for a lender that understands the bad things that happen to good people. C4D’s original and engaging articles offer wide-ranging advice from tax strategies to open house hacks.

ABODO Apartments

If you are interested in the apartment housing market, Abodo is the place to go for up to the minute rental rate information. Each month they analyze the entire national apartment rental scene, and their end-of-the-year wrap-up has been quoted in prestigious publications like The Washington Post.

Zillow Porchlight

You’ll find real estate 101 here with quality blogs about interest rate trends, equity building strategies and what’s happening in specific markets.

Keller Williams

Even if you don’t work for this company you can certainly take advantage of their extensive real estate guides and valuable suggestions. Training, branding and of course all levels of real estate marketing are discussed in detail here.

Housing Wire

If you’re looking for real estate blogs with a lot of current news, this one’s for you.  You’ll find trends, trends, and more trends on this great site.

Bigger Pockets

This is a great blog site that deals with finance from a personal point of view. Initial homebuyers will find loads of helpful information here.

Speaking of Real Estate

This is the one and only official blog from the National Association of Realtors. They get right to the point, and the clean and concise real estate blogs on this site will provide valuable education.


Check out the article “30 Million Reasons to Rethink the Real Estate Closing,” and you’ll see why Inman is an excellent resource for tech-related real estate blogs.


Redfin is the Abodo of the residential single-family home world, and you’ll find tons of stats from all over the country. Note that many of these stats are derived directly from Redfin’s significant knowledge of local markets.

Forbes Real Estate

Whether you are a buyer, a seller, and agent or just an interested third-party real estate investor, Forbes is known for presenting both a national and international view of what’s happening in real estate.

Jason Fox

Worried if your site is set up properly? Read this guy’s “5 Most Common SEO Mistakes Real Estate Companies Make,” and you’ll get some great insight into digital marketing. Check out the full site here.


Want to check out what the one-percenters are up to? This is the place to accomplish that. Sotheby’s is a legendary company with unlimited resources for fantastic real estate professionals.


Trulia has been a real estate trailblazer where, like Zillow, many property owners love to frequently check their home’s value. Their “Money Matters” section is particularly helpful if you’re concerned about your credit rating and score.


If you’re interested in meaningful stats like “2019 Cost Burden Report: Half of Renter Households Struggle with Affordability,” this is the place for you.

Better Homes and Gardens

This is a lifestyle resource site, but maybe you can send your clients to it if they’re looking for better ways to throw a party, or if they need some quality tips on staging a home for a sale.


This site will help any of your clients that are interested in purely passive income opportunities. They say up front that “we provide the knowledge, resources and turnkey investment properties YOU need to achieve financial freedom!”


This is our favorite place for in-depth quality real estate blogs with titles like:

  • How Yucky Mold Makes You Sick and Ruins Your Property
  • Building Trust in Your Brand
  • What to Expect When Closing Your First Deal
  • 6 Best Practices for Flipping Houses and Maximizing Profits
  • Want to Succeed in Real Estate? Focus on These Habits
  • The Two Things You Need, If You Want to Find Deals Online

We certainly understand that you don’t have all day to spend searching for informative and well-written real estate articles, so check out our sweet 16 can’t miss real estate blogs for a quick way to drill-down and stay informed.