home financing

The Intrinsic Value of Real Estate in Rapidly Expanding Cities of 2023

1000 500 Taylor Witt

As urbanization continues to accelerate, cities around the world are witnessing unprecedented growth and development. In this dynamic landscape, real estate has emerged as a highly valuable asset class, especially in fast-growing cities. This article explores why real estate remains a sought-after investment and an essential component of urban growth and development in 2023.

Population Boom and Housing Demand

aerial view of resort and houses

Fast-growing cities of 2023 are experiencing a significant surge in population due to factors such as migration, increased birth rates, and economic opportunities. This population boom creates a pressing need for housing, leading to increased demand for real estate. Developers and investors recognize the immense potential for capitalizing on this growing demand, resulting in a competitive market. A recent study by background check company Checkr details the biggest booming cities in America that might be places to look for real estate investors.

Economic Prosperity and Job Opportunities

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Fast-growing cities are often hubs of economic prosperity and offer abundant job opportunities. Businesses and industries flock to these cities to tap into their potential, attracting a skilled workforce from around the world. As a result, real estate becomes a valuable commodity as individuals seek homes near their workplaces. Residential properties, commercial spaces, and industrial developments become key assets in meeting the demands of an expanding workforce.

Appreciation and Investment Potential

macbook pro on brown wooden table

Real estate has historically proven to be a sound investment with the potential for substantial long-term appreciation. Fast-growing cities offer an ideal environment for investors to capitalize on this appreciation. As urbanization continues, limited land availability drives property prices upward. Strategic investments in real estate assets can yield significant returns over time, making it an attractive investment option for individuals and institutions alike.

Infrastructure Development

aerial view of city during day time

Fast-growing cities understand the importance of infrastructure development to accommodate their expanding populations and maintain their growth trajectory. Governments and private developers invest heavily in improving transportation networks, building modern amenities, and creating sustainable urban landscapes. These infrastructure developments enhance the desirability of the surrounding real estate, making properties in well-connected and developed areas even more valuable.

Diversification and Risk Mitigation

white and red wooden house beside grey framed magnifying glass

Real estate provides diversification benefits and serves as a hedge against market volatility. In rapidly expanding cities, where other investment options may carry higher risks, real estate offers stability and resilience. Even during economic downturns, properties tend to hold their value better than other assets. The stability and long-term growth potential of real estate act as a shield against market volatility, making it an attractive choice for risk-averse investors.

In the fast-paced world of 2023, real estate continues to hold significant value in rapidly growing cities. Its ability to meet the housing demands of a surging population, its potential for appreciation and investment, and its resilience during economic fluctuations make it an essential and highly sought-after asset class for both individuals and institutions alike.

Unlocking Your Home’s Value: Exploring the Benefits of Taking Equity Out of Your House

1000 500 Taylor Witt

For many new homeowners, their house represents not just a place to live, but also a valuable asset that can be leveraged to meet financial goals. One way to tap into the value of your home is by taking equity out of it. In this article, we will explore the concept of taking equity out of your house, the methods available, and the potential benefits and considerations associated with this financial strategy.

red blocks on brown wooden table

Understanding Home Equity

Before delving into the process of taking equity out of your house, it’s important to understand what home equity means. Home equity is the difference between the market value of your property and the outstanding balance on your mortgage. As you continue to make mortgage payments and your property value appreciates, your equity gradually increases over time.

Additionally, new research from Truehold shows that many Americans believe they’ll be tapping into their home equity quite soon. In fact, the study shows that 88% of Millennials, 80% of Gen Zers, and 77% of Gen Xers say they’re worried that a potential recession might force them to pull money out of their house, and just 56% of Baby Boomers agree.

Methods of Accessing Home Equity

There are several methods homeowners can use to access their home equity. Let’s take a look at three popular options:

  1. Home Equity Loan (HEL) or Second Mortgage: A home equity loan, also known as a second mortgage, allows you to borrow a fixed amount of money using your home’s equity as collateral. You receive a lump sum upfront and repay it, typically with fixed interest rates and monthly installments over a specified period. This option suits those who need a large sum for a specific purpose, such as home improvements or debt consolidation.
  2. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): A home equity line of credit functions more like a credit card, providing you with a revolving line of credit based on your home equity. With a HELOC, you can withdraw funds as needed and only pay interest on the amount borrowed. This flexible option is ideal for ongoing expenses or when you’re uncertain about the total amount you’ll require.
  3. Cash-Out Refinance: In a cash-out refinance, you replace your existing mortgage with a new one, borrowing more than you currently owe. The difference between the new loan amount and your old mortgage is received as cash. This option allows you to take advantage of potentially lower interest rates, and the funds can be used for various purposes. However, it’s essential to consider closing costs and the impact on your mortgage terms.

Benefits of Taking Equity Out of Your House

  1. Home Improvements: Accessing your home equity can be a smart move if you’re planning renovations or upgrades. By reinvesting in your property, you can increase its value and potentially enjoy a higher resale price in the future.
  2. Debt Consolidation: If you have high-interest debts, such as credit card balances or personal loans, taking equity out of your house can provide a means to consolidate those debts into a single, more manageable payment. This strategy may offer lower interest rates and potentially save you money in the long run.
  3. Education or Investments: Using your home equity to fund higher education or investments can provide opportunities for personal and financial growth. Whether you’re considering further education or looking to start a new business venture, accessing your home equity can be a viable financing option.
  4. Emergency Expenses: Life can throw unexpected financial challenges our way. In such situations, having access to your home equity can serve as a financial safety net. Whether it’s medical bills, unforeseen repairs, or sudden unemployment, having liquid funds available can provide peace of mind.

Considerations and Risks

While taking equity out of your house can be beneficial, it’s crucial to approach it with careful consideration.

100 us dollar bill

Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  1. Equity Erosion: By tapping into your home equity, you reduce the stake you have in your property. This can affect your net worth and may limit your options in the future, such as downsizing or accessing further equity.
  2. Increased Debt: Borrowing against your home equity means taking on additional debt. It’s crucial to assess your ability to make repayments and ensure you have a plan to manage the new financial responsibility.
  3. Fluctuating Property Values: The real estate market is subject to fluctuations, and property values can rise or fall. It’s essential to evaluate the potential impact on your equity and loan-to-value ratio, especially if you plan to sell your home in the near future.
  4. Costs and Fees: When considering any method of accessing your home equity, be mindful of associated costs. These may include application fees, closing costs, origination fees, and appraisal charges. Factor in these expenses when determining the financial feasibility of your decision.


Taking equity out of your house can be a valuable tool to achieve your financial goals, whether it’s renovating your home, consolidating debts, investing in education, or handling unexpected expenses.

However, it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the potential risks and consider your long-term financial plans before making a decision. Consulting with a financial advisor can provide personalized guidance to help you navigate this financial strategy and make an informed choice. Ultimately, when used wisely, tapping into your home equity can open doors to new opportunities and provide the financial support you need.

Helpful Lifestyle Changes to Make After Bankruptcy

1000 500 Taylor Witt

Getting your finances in order after filing for bankruptcy can feel overwhelming and impossible, especially if your bankruptcy was a result of mismanagement and overspending. However, there are easy steps you can take to learn better spending habits and get your credit in check.

bankruptcy letter scrabble

Bankruptcy offers a solution to your financial problems, and a fresh start so you certainly want to make it count. Here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make after filing for bankruptcy to build your life back. 

Living Within Your Means

Budgets are difficult for anyone to follow. There are things you want to do or to have but just can’t afford at the moment, and putting it on a credit card to pay for later can be a dangerous idea. Debt can rack up quickly, and this is a major reason people end up with no choice but to file for bankruptcy. 

If you have filed for bankruptcy, whether it was due to debt or another reason, you will have to learn how to budget and keep your lifestyle within your means. Determine how much you make each month, then create categories for things you have to pay for, want to pay for, and savings.

Saving money is extremely important for financial security and ensuring you won’t have to file again, so it is smart to automatically take a portion of your paycheck and put it into savings.

Then you can determine what your monthly expenses will be. These are things like rent, car payments, groceries, utilities, and any other necessities. Finally, what you have left over can be dedicated to things you want, such as leisure, entertainment, eating out, clothes, and more. If you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your budget may be determined by your trustee, but chapter 7 files usually have more control over their budget. Nonetheless, a budget is essential for keeping yourself out of debt and on a new path.

Consider going “Cash-Only”

With today’s technology, swiping your credit card or entering the information at an online checkout is incredibly easy, but this can also easily damage your finances. Committing to a lifestyle where you only pay with cash is much more difficult than the convenience of using a credit card, but it might be a good tool for showing you how much money you are actually spending. 

fan of 100 U.S. dollar banknotes

Switching most of your purchases to cash will help you regain control of your spending habits, however, it is important to still use a credit card to maintain your credit score. For example, you may use a credit card to pay for one item like gas or groceries, and use cash to pay for the rest.

This will allow you to keep your credit going and not damage it further, without relying so heavily on it. You can still use cash in this scenario, just set the amount you paid with your credit card in cash aside until the end of the month. This way you are physically saving the amount you have to pay when your credit card bill comes, and you won’t be scrambling to find the money or carrying over the balance into the next month. 

What is “Highest Use” in Real Estate Appraisals?

1000 500 Taylor Witt

When appraising real estate, appraisers are trained to determine a property’s market value according to its “highest and best use,” regardless of how the property is actually being used at the time of valuation. The historical reason appraisers consider highest and best use (HBU) when performing a valuation ties back to the 19th and early 20th-century real estate concept of maximum productivity. 

This concept is still very much in play in today’s real estate market. But how does an appraiser determine the highest and best use of a piece of land? This article will explore the philosophy and practical application behind the highest and best use in real estate valuations.

How to Determine Highest and Best Use

Appraisers have certain constraints when determining the highest and best use of a property. These constraints—sometimes referred to as tests—are practical, legal, and financial in scope.

A property is tested against these constraints to determine what maximum productivity is actually practical—i.e., compliant with the law, affordable, and physically doable considering the land itself. 

There are generally four tests appraisers will use to determine the highest and best use of property: 

  • legally permissible
  • physically possible
  • financially feasible
  • maximally productive

Legally Permissible

The highest and best use of land must be legally permissible. This means appraisers must work within the existing legal framework when considering the HBU. Certain legal considerations include:

  • Zoning laws
  • Local ordinances
  • Environmental protections
  • Regulatory laws

However, what is legally permissible at the moment might not preclude future legal permissibility. For example, if a property isn’t zoned for commercial use, an appraiser can still consider it for commercial use if there is a greater than 50% chance the property would be approved for commercial use. 

Appraisers can creatively work within the legal restrictions on property to reach an HBU. 

Physically Possible

Appraisers are also constrained by what is physically possible on the property. One property’s environmental and topographical characteristics will vary considerably from another property with the same square footage. 

A 10,000 sq. ft. facility might fit well on one 20,000 sq. ft. property but won’t fit feasibly on a comparable property for various reasons. Perhaps one property is marshy or sandy or contains hazardous waste. These restrictions will affect the highest and best use of that property.

Financially Feasible

The highest and best use of a property must also be financially feasible. In other words, the projected use of a property must generate enough profit to justify the development of the property. 

If the costs of repurposing property exceed the projected revenue of the property, then that particular use of the property is not financially feasible. As a result, that particular use is not the highest and best use by default. 

Maximally Productive

The use of a property is maximally productive when it generates the highest return for its developers. One property could have several potential uses, but only one option will generate the highest profit for developers.

For example, let’s say developers just purchased a 10,000-square-foot plot of vacant land for $100,000. They have several options for generating profit with this land, but only one option will produce the highest returns. 

Option 1: Commercial Warehouse Space

Let’s say that the cost to develop this space into a commercial warehouse would be $600,000, and the market value upon completion is $800,000. When the purchase price of the vacant plot is considered, the return is only $100,000. 

Option 2: Commercial Retail Strip Mall

Let’s say the cost to develop this space into a retail strip mall would be $1,000,000, and the market value of this particular use of the property is determined to be $1,500,000. Here, the return is $500,000. 

Option 3: Luxury Apartments

Let’s say the cost to develop this property into luxury apartments is $1,500,000, and the market value of the completed project is $2,500,000. Here the return is $1,000,000. 

The maximally productive option might first appear to be option 3, as it nets a return of $1,000,000. However, the initial cost to develop this property is $1,500,000. Whether or not option 3 is actually the maximally productive option depends on the initial capital investment of the developers. This option might not be financially feasible for some developers.

Whether or not the use of a property is maximally productive is contingent upon the other constraints, too, like its financial feasibility and legal permissibility. 

Understanding Highest and Best Use

According to Roni Davis from First National Realty Partners, a commercial real estate investing company, “Calculating the highest and best use of a property is more complicated than it appears on the surface. Not only do the physical limitations of the property factor into the valuation, but the financial limitations of the developers, as well as legal restrictions ultimately determine the highest and best use of a property.”  

Guide – Purchase and Sale Agreements (PSAs)

1000 500 Sam Radbil

If you are gearing up to make an offer and buy your first home, you’ll soon come face to face with an overwhelming number of legal forms, documents, and certificates. This article will guide you through one of the more important of those documents—the purchase and sale agreement. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what’s in a PSA, why PSAs are an essential part of purchasing a home, and who’s responsible for drafting it. 

Let’s begin with a definition.

Defining Purchase and Sale Agreements (PSAs)

In essence, a PSA is a legally-binding document that describes the terms and conditions of a real estate transaction. PSAs are drafted by a real estate agent or a lawyer—depending on which state the transaction takes place in—and signed by both the home seller and home purchaser.

Note that signing a PSA does not complete the purchase of a property. Instead, it simply outlines the terms, conditions, and contingencies both parties (the buyer and seller) must meet to avoid the risk of legal action.

Therefore, PSAs are like an official outline of the closing process. Signing a PSA starts the countdown toward signing the purchase agreement, which is the final document that completes the transaction. If the PSA is like the shot that starts the race, the purchase agreement is the finish line.

Now that we know what PSAs are, we can explore what’s in them.

What’s In a Purchase and Sale Agreement?

Different states will have slightly different requirements for what needs to be included in a PSA. Also, buyers and sellers might propose additional contingencies unique to a specific transaction. 

Usually, a PSA will contain the following items:

The Purchase Price

The purchase price establishes the amount of money the buyer will pay the seller in the transaction. However, most PSAs allow the purchase price to be changed if an appraisal comes back lower than expected or if an emerging issue with the property gives the buyer grounds to negotiate a lower price.

Barring a poor appraisal or sudden damage to the property, most purchase prices end up being the closing price.

Information Regarding the “Good Faith” Deposit

The “good faith” deposit is a promissory deposit that establishes the buyer’s intent to follow through on the purchase. PSAs outline specific details of the “good faith” deposit, also known as earnest money

PSAs will establish—

  • how much earnest money the buyer must pay
  • when they must pay it by
  • who manages the payment 

Additionally, the PSA will establish how much time the deposit holds for the buyer to complete home inspections and appraisals. It also outlines what scenarios allow a buyer to get their deposit back.

The Closing Date

The PSA will also establish a closing date,  which can be thought of as the finish line for the home buying process. Many affairs need to be completed before the closing date, such as the home appraisal, the home inspection, and the title search, among other things. 

Essentially, the closing date is a legally-defined deadline both parties must adhere to once the PSA is signed.

Information Regarding the Title Condition, Title Insurance Company, or Escrow Company

PSAs will also contain information on the title, how it must be transferred, how it is insured, and which company is overseeing this process. Title insurance companies or escrow companies can handle the transfer of the title. 

Depending on the state where the transaction occurs, the title’s transfer might occur at the agency or the property. All of these details are clearly outlined in the PSA.

Other Items That May Be Included in a PSA

Various Contingencies

PSAs will also outline how either party can legally back out of the contract at no additional cost. Usually, these contingencies involve appraisals or home inspections that reveal a lower price than expected or reveal a fundamental issue with the property. 

Other Documents

Certain addendums are often added at the buyer or seller’s request. These cover issues that a standard PSA might not address. For example, if the property has a septic tank, the buyer might request an addendum that requires the seller to perform a septic inspection by the closing date.

How Does the Signing Process Work?

According to Roni Davis, from commercial real estate investing company First National Realty Partners, “Usually, the buyer will send a signed PSA to the seller that contains all of the terms and conditions outlined above. If the seller likes the terms and conditions set out in the PSA, they will sign and return the PSA.”

However, buyers and sellers often negotiate on specifics back and forth by sending counteroffers until an agreement is reached.

How To Get Started in Passive Commercial Real Estate Investing

1000 500 Sam Radbil

Commercial real estate investing can be much hairier than residential. This we know. Permits, zoning issues, equipment, and material headaches, contractor disputes–it can be a lot to deal with. Thankfully, commercial real estate investing returns are normally much higher than residential real estate investing returns, making the slog to selling a property worth it in the end.

But, commercial real estate investing doesn’t need to be an active, all-encompassing part of your life. You don’t have to necessarily deal with all the paperwork, problems, and people associated with purchasing and managing a commercial property. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, let me tell you about passive real estate investing.

What is Passive Real Estate Investing?

As an active real estate investor, you may be buying and rehabbing properties, managing tenants, handling maintenance, collecting rent, or any number of duties associated with managing a property.

As a passive real estate investor, though, you do little more than move money along from investment to investment. In passive investing, you do not actually work with the property you invest in, much in the same way people buying Coca-Cola stock do not gain employment at one of their bottling factories.

Passive real estate investors simply buy into a property as a silent partner. A real estate syndication company (more on them in a bit) handles the property, including selling, renting, and managing tenants. Passive commercial real estate investing, then (obviously), is passive investing principles applied to commercial real estate. 

Why Passive Real Estate Investing?

If you believe that time is the most expensive thing in the world (i.e., you can spend it but never get it back), then passive real estate investing may be the strategy for you. 

With passive investing, you do not have to: slog through hours of permit paperwork, deal with unruly tenants, rush to find maintenance men capable of fixing a leak, or deal with contractual issues regarding a property’s structural capabilities. The only thing you have to do is open your wallet in the right direction.

That doesn’t mean you can be hands-off with your investment strategy. Investors still need to practice due diligence when aiming for the right property. This means asking the right questions to the right people. 

Another reason you should consider investing in passive commercial property is the high cost to enter. Commercial real estate is pricey, and if you’re simply one individual attempting to purchase a property, you may find your money isn’t long enough to play the game. 

In this case, it’s almost essential to partner with a commercial real estate syndication company. These companies pool groups of investors just like you into one massive investment fund to purchase a property you usually couldn’t get on your own.

Additionally, if you have little knowledge of the housing and commercial real estate market, a syndication company may be a great way for you to dip your toes in the waters of commercial real estate investing. 

As an outside investor, you won’t be able to make major decisions regarding renovations and rental policies, for example, but you’ll be privy to the syndication company’s strategy. You’ll get inside baseball on what works and doesn’t work. Consider this your MBA in passive commercial real estate investing. 

Real Estate Syndication Companies 

A real estate syndication company is funded by a group of investors, like yourself, who pool their money together to purchase a commercial property. The real estate syndication company manages the commercial property, and the investors act as the silent partners.

There are several types of real estate syndication companies. It pays to understand the differences between them before deciding which fits your lifestyle and budget better. 


Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are specialized syndication companies. These trusts are not taxable at the entity level. That means that you’re taxed at the individual level at a much lower rate. If you invest in REITs, you reap the added caveat of tax benefits as long as the company complies with the requisite IRA rules.

There are two types of REITs: publicly and privately traded. 

  • Publicly traded REITs can be bought and sold by any investor with a brokerage account. The minimum investment is the cost of one share. These REITs are coveted by investors for their liquidity, low minimums, good returns, and passive income ability. 
  • Privately traded REITs offer the same tax advantages as publicly-traded REITs, but only “accredited investors” are welcome to purchase them. Accredited Investors must meet a minimum income, and net worth requirement before access to share purchases is unlocked.

Private Equity Commercial Real Estate Investments

Private equity firms are similar to REITs in that they pool investor resources to purchase commercial properties. But, they do not have the same tax benefits as REITs. Private equity firms also are not responsible for distributing a high percentage of income and profits. 

There are two kinds of private equity commercial real estate investing groups:

  • Funds are contributed to by investors, but that’s where their input ends. The private equity company decides what property to buy while investors stand back and hope for the best.
  • Deals are different than funds in that they include the input of the investors. Investors decide on the property first, then pool together their resources for the sole purpose of a commercial property purchase. 

Strategies for Passive Commercial REI

Here are a few tips and tricks for exploring a passive income commercial real estate investing strategy using a syndication company:

  • Utilize Facebook & Meetup. Facebook Groups & Meetup are great places to find real estate syndication groups. Peruse top posts, rules, and past meetups to get a sense of each group’s flavor. Once you find one you vibe with, connect with the group’s leadership to ask how you can get involved in future deals.
  • Try public records. CoStar public record lookup is a good resource for finding companies that own properties you prefer. Once you find the companies, you can Google their names to vet the list for companies you’d rather do business with.
  • Attend networking events and conferences. Networking events (online and offline) are great ways to find like-minded investors already locked into a syndication company. Pick their brains on which company is best for you or jump into their shared fund and start reaping the rewards. 
  • Ask questions. Some of the questions you should be asking your potential real estate syndication company:
    • Do you have testimonials from previous investors?
    • Have any syndication deals underperformed and why?
    • What class of properties do you deal with?
    • What is the average ROI (return on investment)?
    • How many years of experience in underwriting commercial properties does the company have?
    • What is the company’s investing model, and why?
  • Watch for warning signs. There are a few red flags you should be on the lookout for when vetting syndication companies:
    • Comps are unreasonably distant from property
    • Set aside reserves are not budgeted
    • Decrease of population growth
    • Decrease of rental growth
    • Absorption rates are low
    • Revenue growth is unnaturally over 2% to 3%
  • Compare offerings. When studying the “offering memorandum” of each company, compare fee and profit return structures. These vary from company to company. Asset Management and Acquisition fees should fall anywhere between 1% to 5%. Compare offerings, choose the company that best fits your pocket and financial personality, and off to the real estate races you go. Godspeed, young investor. 

Extra Costs of Buying a Home in 2021: What You MUST Know

1000 500 Taylor Witt

When buying a new home, it’s essential to factor in all the possible additional costs. These can add up quickly, so you should familiarize yourself with them as soon as you decide to search for a new home. Accounting for additional expenses in your budget will make the already stressful process of buying a home a bit easier. These are the extra costs of buying a new home that you need to know about. 

Property taxes

person holding paper near pen and calculator

As a homeowner, you’re required to pay property taxes. The property tax is determined by the city, township, or country where your new property is located (the effective average rate is 1.1% of the home’s assessed value).

Sometimes property taxes are easy to forget to include in your budget calculations as they’re often rolled in with your mortgage. 

Closing Costs

When the real estate transaction comes to an end, you’re required to pay a plethora of fees known as closing costs. To avoid unpleasant surprises, you should talk to your realtor and ask them about the specific closing costs. They usually include:

  • Lawyer fees
  • Cost of inspection
  • Document fees
  • Appraisal fees
  • Surveyance fee
  • Sales brokerage commission
  • Title cost
  • Mortgage application
  • Home warranty

Paying For The Escrow

Making escrow is an important part of the budget you need to buy a new home. Generally, buyers are asked to pay for escrow upfront to cover some costs (insurance, property taxes, etc.). 

Earnest Money

Earnest money, a form of security deposit made in large transactions such as real estate dealings, is paid upfront before filling out the paperwork. Since it’s a deposit, home buyers will receive the money-back once the transaction goes through. If the buyer should back out of the deal, they probably won’t get their deposit back. 

The amount of earnest money ranges from a few hundred to thousands of dollars; the precise amount ought to be listed in the contract. 

School Taxes

Homebuyers that have children who go to or about to start school are probably happy to pay more in school taxes if it ensures high-quality education for their children. Those who don’t have school-age children might want to look into what school taxes they’re expected to pay because it could be a deal-breaker. The amount of school taxes varies from district to district. 

Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is not that much of a surprise expense since banks and mortgage companies require it before issuing a loan.

Oftentimes homeowner’s insurance is included in monthly mortgage rates. It’s essential not to overlook this expense as it could go up or down depending on your needs. For instance, most basic homeowner’s policies don’t provide coverage against natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes. If you’re buying a house in an area prone to disasters, you’ll probably want to pay for extra insurance.

Interest Rates

There is no way around interest rates – they’re the inevitable part of buying a new home. The good news is that having a good credit card rating will get you a lower interest rate. 

Moving Costs

Don’t forget to account for all the moving costs. Moving vans are usually expensive, depending on how far your new home is. If you’re making a long-distance move, you have to think about moving costs upfront as they will likely cost you an arm and a leg. 


Those who are moving to a bigger home need to consider that the utilities might cost a lot more than they’re used to. It’s important to consider costs for: 

  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Sewer
  • Water
  • Cable 
  • Internet

Costs for installing Internet, cable, and other services can add up quickly, so you need to be aware of these expenses beforehand and make sure to include them when you’re planning your budget. 

Home Maintenance and Repairs

Depending on the state of the home you’re buying, you will need to invest a substantial amount into repairs and renovations. This is particularly true if you’ve purchased a fixer-upper. Even if your new home is in somewhat good condition, never underestimate the possibility of an extra cost appearing out of nowhere.

Some repair costs are not so expensive, while some might require you to cough up thousands of dollars. Furthermore, some are not that urgent, and some require immediate renovation, for example, if the roof is in poor condition, you will need to get on that as soon as possible. Repairs that cannot wait can end up costing you a lot more than you’ve hoped. 

That’s why it’s smart to always have a portion of your budget dedicated to the expenses that cover home maintenance and repairs. 

The Takeaway

Buying a new home will undoubtedly carry a myriad of unplanned expenses. By doing research and preparing yourself for additional costs, you’re staying ahead of things.

If you hadn’t thought about all the extra costs and how much they will take out of your pocket, perhaps you’re not quite ready to buy a new home yet. While you’re saving up more money, looking at homes in Minnesota, New York City or Las Vegas it’s the perfect time to take a look at some homes for rent.

Forever Home: A First-Timers Guide to Understanding Home Loans

1000 500 Taylor Witt

If you are considering buying your first home and have no or low credit, you may still be able to procure financing. This article will explain five loan programs for first-time buyers. Read on to find out whether you qualify!

Federal Housing Administration Loan

housing loan blocks on brown wooden surface

First-time homebuyers and those with no or low credit may be eligible for a loan that is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The FHA program was created in 1934 to allow lenders to relax certain criteria to broaden the pool of eligible home loan borrowers. 

Borrowers must have a steady income and provide proof of employment for the last two years to qualify for an FHA loan. That proof may take the form of pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements.

Currently, those with a credit score of at least 580 can qualify for an FHA loan with as little as 3.5% or the purchase price as a down payment. Those with a credit score between 500 and 579 will still qualify for an FHA loan but must come up with 10% of the purchase price as a down payment. All borrowers regardless of credit score must have less than a 43% debt-to-income ratio.

While the FHA makes mortgages available to more people, it imposes more requirements on the property purchased. For example, the property must be inspected and meet certain standards. It also must appraise for the purchase price. The borrower must certify that the property will be their primary residence. The FHA will not guarantee loans to purchase rentals or vacation homes.

There is an additional cost for those with low or no credit to procure a loan through the FHA. The FHA requires that borrowers purchase and maintain mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance pays the loan should the borrower default. 

Veterans Administration Loan

A borrower who is serving or has served in any branch of the military and their eligible spouses may qualify for a home loan through the Veterans Administration (VA). 

Like FHA loans, VA loans are provided by private lenders such as banks and mortgage companies. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide eligible borrowers with more favorable terms such as a lower interest rate or a low or no down payment.

Home Purchase Loans through the VA

VA-guaranteed loans are available for homes for a service member’s or a veteran’s occupancy, as well as for the occupancy of an eligible spouse and/or dependent of active duty service members. 

To be eligible for a VA home purchase loan, a borrower must have a satisfactory credit score, sufficient income to meet their mortgage payments and other monthly obligations, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Borrowers can apply for a COE here.

VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan 

An Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), also called a Streamline Refinance Loan, helps current VA borrowers obtain a lower interest rate by refinancing their existing VA loan. 

Native American Direct Loan Through the VA

The Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program helps eligible Native American Veterans finance the purchase, building, or renovation or improvement of homes on Federal Trust Land. NADL also can reduce the interest rate on an existing VA loan for eligible Native American Veteran borrowers. 

Adapted Housing Grants through the VA

The VA’s Adapted Housing Grants help veterans with a permanent and total disability incurred while in service to purchase, build, or adapt an existing home to assist them in living with their disability more independently. Common modifications to homes include building ramps and widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs. 

In 2021, veterans with qualifying service-connected disabilities can get up to $100,896 through a Specially Adapted Housing Grant. Qualifying injuries include:

  • The loss or loss of use of more than one limb
  • The loss or loss of use of a lower leg;
  • Blindness in both eyes (with 20/200 visual acuity or less)
  • Certain severe burns
  • The loss or loss of use of one lower extremity (foot or leg) causing the inability to walk without the help of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair

Only 120 veterans and service members can qualify for an Adapted Housing Grant based on the loss of one extremity each fiscal year. Those who apply but are turned down because the quota was met are encouraged to reapply the following year.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Loan 

According to David Offen, Esq., bankruptcy lawyer in Philadelphia, “The USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program was created in 2017 to develop, maintain, and occupy eligible rural properties. Urban properties are not eligible, but there may be some opportunity in some suburban areas.”

The USDA issues mortgages to low- and very-low-income applicants purchasing eligible properties at interest rates as low as 1%. The income threshold for eligibility for direct loans from the USDA varies by region.

The USDA also guarantees mortgages issued by participating local lenders, similar to the way the FHA and VA guarantee home loans. The interest rate will be low as will the required down payment, however, those putting little to no money down will have to purchase and maintain mortgage insurance. 

Federal Home Purchase and Renovation Loans

There are four federal programs that allow borrowers, even first-time home buyers, to extend the amount they could otherwise borrow by the amount needed to renovate or improve the property.

The Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

The Energy Efficient Mortgage Program (EEM) allows a borrower to borrow more to purchase a home with energy-saving upgrades and green renovations.

203(k) Loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration

The FHA backs loans to borrowers who want to purchase a fixer-upper. 203(k) Loans are guaranteed in the amount the property will be worth once improvements have been made.

CHOICE Renovation Loan

Guaranteed by Freddie Mac, this conventional loan program allows borrowers to finance both the purchase and renovation of a property with a low down payment.

HomeStyle Loan

This is a conventional loan offered through Fannie Mae to finance the purchase of a fixer-upper as well as needed improvements with just 3% down for first-time buyers.

Visit the websites of the programs you may be eligible for, and talk with a local lender. Obtaining financing through one of these programs may allow you to purchase the home of your dreams.

Selling a Manufactured Home in a Tough Market

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A manufactured home is also known as a mobile home, depending on the year it was built. Basically, one can move a manufactured home or a mobile home around as they wish from one piece of land without breaking it up. While such a home might be useful for many people (a young couple, small families looking for a starter home, or someone who just loves traveling around), there might come a time when you want to move on from your mobile home by selling it. 

white camper trailer in between green trees

Selling a manufactured home shouldn’t be a difficult feat but the real estate market for selling such homes is still unpredictable. There are also loans and mortgages involved which many sellers may want to avoid. You can choose a cash buyer if a quick process is a goal but there are many options and avenues available today for transferring mobile homes from one land to another. 

Let’s discuss some of these now: 

Selling for Cash

It’s especially tempting to sell a manufactured home or a mobile home for cash. You get the money right away and will probably avoid a lot of legal trouble as well. However, you still have to verify that your mobile home buyer has the required funds before signing anything. Once both parties agree, you should get a deposit in hand. 

Approval from the community

The same precautions apply to other real estate aspects of selling a mobile home. For instance, if your buyer might need to obtain approval from the relevant manufactured home community, they should take that step as soon as possible. Make sure to structure the approval so that the deposit can be refunded if their application process is not successful. 

Moving the home from the land

The buyer might also plan to move the manufactured home away from the current land. In this case, you’ll have to get in touch with the park management to start the procedure. Most communities will require a notice of thirty to sixty days if someone wants to move a home out of their land. No matter what the situation is, you should ensure that your collaboration is with a trustworthy and sincere mobile home buyer. 

Selling through Payments

If you’re selling a manufactured home but don’t need all that money right away, selling a mobile home through payments is also a good idea. This step will turn you into a sort of bank but it’s still important to get a significant amount as the down payment from your buyer. 

The terms for this real estate agreement should also be outlined and understood by both parties well in advance. In the contract, make sure you state the amount of the payment and the duration of the payment terms. 

Staying away from risks

You might also choose to sell one or more homes to a housing community instead of any particular individual. In that case, you don’t really want your manufactured home moved away until the payment is completed in full. See that your agreement contract states this condition in no uncertain terms. A mobile home or manufactured home is at risk when it’s moved from the actual land. A lot can go wrong which is why you should practice some caution and ask a real estate professional for help. 

Selling to the Manufactured Home Community

Another avenue for selling a manufactured home is to have the manufactured home community as the buyer party. This is a logical option if the residents of your home want to move away. Most manufactured home communities would prefer that their homes stay in place, so they’ll probably be willing to buy you out. However, you still have to consider the pros and cons of choosing this process.

Pros of selling to the manufactured home community

If there are any manufactured homes for sale on their land, the relevant community would probably be willing to buy it very quickly. You get the money fast, and the buying party is a reliable one. It’s the same land you’ve probably dealt with before so you know that the home and the land are in good hands. 

Another upside is that the community will usually be the one taking care of any paperwork. The title transfer and other nuances can be bothersome. So, it’s nice to have a real estate manager who can take the responsibility off your hands. 

Cons of selling to the manufactured home community

On the other hand, selling a mobile home or manufactured home has many aspects. With the community, you might get a much lower offer than with some other party. If you’re in a hurry, you might have to make this compromise. 

If you do have time on your hands, it’s probably a good idea to hold off on the sale as much as you can. 

Selling to a Manufactured Home Dealership

Mobile home dealerships or manufactured home dealerships are familiar with selling and buying new or used manufactured homes. They might even take a used manufactured home as a trade-in for credit to purchase a new mobile home or manufactured home. In a way, it’s much like a car dealership that could exchange your old car for a new one at a reduced price. 

You might be on the lookout for a new mobile home. So, check out any local manufactured home dealership to see if they’re interested in a trade-in. Such dealerships might also consider buying used mobile homes and putting them on sale for their buyer list. This list usually includes investors or other homeowners like yourself. 

Pros of selling to a manufacturing or mobile home dealership

Just like selling to a manufactured home community, the main advantage you get by selling a mobile home to dealers is that it’s a quick process. You get the deal done and the money in hand relatively quickly. 

Cons of selling to a manufacturing or mobile home dealership

The main disadvantage of this step is that you get a lower offer than you initially expected. However, make the final decision after getting both the bad and the good about such a deal. 

Selling the mobile home to an Investor

If a manufactured homeowner is in a hurry to sell their property, whether attached to land or not, an investor might be the best way to go. 

Before you make up your mind, though, remember that investors are also interested in profits just like the communities and dealerships out there. With an investor, though, there might be some leeway to make the situation work for both parties concerned. 

Precautions about working with an investor while selling a mobile home

First of all, make sure that any investor you deal with is trustworthy. If they’re reliable and follow up on what they say or promise, that’s generally a green signal. 

In any case, you have to make it clear that the investor needs to get approval from the manufactured home community before taking ownership of the home. If they want to move the home away from the park, the management concerned should be on board with that decision. 

Finding Buyers

If you’re looking for mobile home buyers other than your own manufactured home community or a manufactured home dealership, you’ll have to be a bit proactive. Buyers for manufactured homes or mobile homes are certainly in the market. However, you’d probably have to go through at least one of the following steps to find them: 

Advertising offline

Once you understand the different kinds of buyers in the real estate market, decide how you want to sell. You can then start making signs and advertisements to find buyers. 

First of all, the front window of your manufactured home should have a ‘For Sale by Owner’ sign in it. The sign should have a valid number on it. 

Second, advertise through flyers, billboards, and any other physical form you can afford. You can also ask your social circle to spread the word. 

Advertising online

Your next step is to go online and list your manufactured or mobile home for sale on the relevant selling sites. Facebook is one good platform, Craigslist is another. Try out any other site that has good reviews about a mobile home and has worked for other manufactured homeowners in the recent past. 

Make sure you advertise in the right departments; if you’re selling the manufactured home on a payment contract, advertise your mobile home within the ‘For Rent’ section. The description could include a statement about rent to own mobile homes.

For a cash sale, advertise in the ‘For Sale’ sections on your chosen websites. 

The Takeaway

Selling a manufactured home requires a bit of know-how. So, it’s best to research your requirements and needs as much as possible. Several factors will contribute to this sale and taking a good look at your particular situation is essential. Get a real estate agent with the relevant experience to start with. That way, you’ll hopefully be sailing along to your next move in record time.

How to Approach Selling a Luxury Property in a Difficult Market

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Placing a luxury property on the market is a lot different to listing a less expensive one. Just fixing the main cosmetic issues won’t necessarily address the concerns that prospective buyers may have in this higher price range. Here is how to approach selling a luxury property in a difficult market. 

Oak Alley Plantation, Southern Plantation, Mansion

Choose the Right Season to List Your Property

A waterfront property that’s listed when the weather is blustery with sand blowing up into the air isn’t going to be well received by potential buyers. Similarly, homes that look delightful with the fall colors may not be as attractive in springtime. 

Choosing the best season to list the property is half the battle. Failing to take this into consideration could lead to the home getting poor reception. Then, when the listing has been up too long, it becomes harder to sell as people start to question what’s wrong with it. By listing at the right time, you can avoid these potential pitfalls. 

Deal with Realtors That Already Handle Luxury Homes

While a newer realtor may be interested in picking up the listing and running with it, that’s not always the best move. It’s also an issue if your home sits in one price bracket, but they’ve only previously handled smaller transaction values.

Their contact list is likely to be limited to the lower end, which likely will restrict the interest they can generate and offers they can procure. 

Get the Staging Right

If the home has recently been renovated, but it’s not seen plush furnishings added or finishing touches made, that could be a problem. Plans may have caused you to make a late decision to put the house on the market even though it’s technically not ready to show. 

One way to get around this is virtual staging. This is the idea of replacing photographic visuals with a mixture of real shots of the interior coupled with imaginative staging elements. This is done by removing objects from the image and adding in furnishings digitally to complete the final presentation. 

Virtual staging is an affordable way to provide excellent new visuals without the need for physical staging. At a time when some sellers wish to limit the number of strangers visiting their homes, technology has come to the rescue. 

Accept Price Guidance from an Experienced Realtor

When selling a luxury piece of real estate, you may have a price in mind. Nevertheless, what your home can command currently on the market may vary markedly from your golden number. 

It’s important to listen to an experienced realtor on pricing. They have access to recent comps in the market. Even without those, they should have a good idea about valuations. When they advise what they feel the home is worth, asking them to list it significantly above this level risks the home going unsold.  

In a difficult market where homes aren’t selling as quickly, and prospective buyers are making lower offers, patience is required. Also, listen to the realtor because they usually know their job well, and given that they stand to gain from the sale too, they’re unlikely to steer you wrong.