Shopping With your Dog

Fun fact, we are coming up on our one year anniversary of adopting our dog, Dorothy! Not-so-fun fact, for the first 6 months we had her, she had extreme separation anxiety. We went through numerous crates and cages, tried home remedies, music and even hired babysitters to keep her calm in our absence. When my husband was out of town, I felt defeated and panicky at the thought of not being able to leave my house for the smallest errand. curry

During that period, I began researching places that I could either work with Dorothy in tow, or take her with me if I needed to pick something up. Around the Triangle, we were welcomed at certain coffee shops, most breweries and restaurant patios and outdoors-y type stores. I knew that Home Depot was a safe place for us to venture, but never imagined the plethora of other dog-friendly stores that were out there. We credit Dot’s calm demeanor to getting out and about in public and keeping it cool while on leash. Here are a few of the places I was surprised to find, and am making my way through!

Just a note: I always call ahead to the individual store to ensure that the manager will allow us. I also consider how long I need to be there and what I’m actually getting to evaluate if it’s the best place to bring her. Also, she is incredibly calm and friendly and never ruffled or destructive in public. If she were, I’d definitely find another option rather than subjecting everyone to bad behavior!

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Red, Red Wine

The Best Stain-Fighting Tips for a White Couch

As a family that loves red wine, black labs and white couches, something terrible was destined to happen to us. Seriously, it was only a matter of time. Now, if you know me offline, it’s easy to assume that I was behind this Cabernet display. I can’t legally name names, but y’all, this was actually, really, truly, not my fault.

I DID place the wine on a table of suspect sturdiness, but ultimately I was not responsible for its unruly end. That’s all I got to say about that.

And unruly it was. There was wine dripping from the mantel, in between the fireplace grates, down the walls, and covering the arms and the cushions of our couch. I had to act fast. Here’s how:

  1. I started by BLOTTING the spots with a dry towel to remove as much as I could. I followed with the same motion using a towel drenched in ice cold water. No scrubbing, no rubbing, just consistent up and down motions. Keep in mind, at this point for some reason the couch was turning BLUE because it’s got feathers in it?! There was a lot of sweat and outdoor voice action happening.
  2. Once I had removed as much as I could, I reached for my Dryel pen. This is the craziest component, because it comes as part of an at-home dry cleaning kit. This specific pen was recommended to my mom for upholstery by a long-time patron of JoAnn’s Fabrics, and those ladies don’t PLAY. I have since used it on all stains and it is an absolute wonder.
  3. For the walls,  I actually let the red wine dry, much to the absolute terror of my husband. Once it dried, I hit them with a Magic Eraser and it looked as good as new.
  4. The carpet trick came from something I learned in college during an “informative speech” day in my public speaking class. I taught the class how to make breakfast in bed, and James Adams taught everyone how to remove a Jungle Juice stain from the carpet. MAY GOD BLESS YOU JAMES! Please note, I have since verified this with ApartmentTherapy and Bob Vila and all parties agree that it’s legit.

The Best Stain-Fighting Tips for a White Couch (1)

You simply fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Next, plug in your iron to the highest steam setting. While it’s heating up, spray the stain liberally with the vinegar mixture and lay an old white towel over top of the stain. Press the hot iron over top of the stain and move it around until you see steam appear. When you move the iron, you should see that the stain transferred on to the towel like MAGIC. Continue moving the towel around and repeating until all of the stain gets transferred.

The last thing that I will rave about during this stressful time is our amazing furniture company, Discount Furniture of the Carolinas. When we purchased our couch, the owner Bradley advised us about this program called Guardian. It’s an insurance that cost us a whopping $150, and lasts for 5 years. It covers rips, tears, stains, pet mishaps, you name it. There’s no deductible, so I thought there HAD to be a catch. After sending a picture to Bradley (that I’m sure is up on their Wall of Shame), he sent out a whole brand new half of our couch. Normally they’d try to replace or repair cushion by cushion, but ya know, we really brought the house down with our stain.

I can NOT say enough good things about Bradley and this company in terms of selection, customer service, integrity, communication, and the list goes on.

I hope this never ever happens to you, but if it does, I hope this helps!

In the Dog House: Buyer Edition

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So, it’s no secret that Dorothy June runs our life and we joke (sorta..) that we bought her a back yard for her birthday. And honestly, with 1/3 of millennials agreeing that they purchased a home for their pup vs. marriage or stability, it kinda feels nice to know we aren’t alone. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, there are important considerations for every member of the family. I’m going to share some of the highlights today to keep in mind when you’re buying:

  1. Research the Community- One of the best things about moving from an apartment is no longer having to answer to a leasing company. However, many homes you’ll see are part of a Homeowner’s Association where you’ll pay dues for them to do a variety of things from maintaining your lawn to planting flowers in the shared spaces to planning the 4th of July BBQ. Many of these associations also have restrictions on whether or not you can fence a home and what styles are allowed. ALWAYS make sure to get a survey of your lot so you can see where the property lines are, and if there are any easements or setbacks that would keep you from fencing in your land. Also make sure to take leash laws, noise ordinances and other restrictions into account from the local government.
  2. Scan for Dangers- This isn’t a dealbreaker by any means, but you should 100% scan your new backyard and take note of anything dangerous for your pup. For instance, I heard a story recently of someone losing two pets in the same day after they ate poisonous mushrooms in their new backyard. Are there plants you don’t recognize? Holes that could belong to snakes? Woods for wildlife like coyotes? All these things are great to run by your agent, the sellers and your vet.
  3. Be Open to Tradeoffs- I sometimes find it’s difficult to satisfy my pet owner clients, because obviously our babies deserve the best. However, sometimes you may end up loving a house with a small yard. Be sure to take a spin around the neighborhood and look for walking routes, parks, and other dogs to play with that could lighten the pressure of having the perfect outdoor space. Also be sure to note things like stairs and hardwood floors that could be challenging for older dogs, or exciting and great exercise for young pups.
  4. Update All Records- Once you land on a new place, update your dog’s microchip information immediately. With all the new sights and smells, there’s a chance that they’d run off and be uncomfortable in their new neighborhood. Also, take some time early on to interview new vets, find new caretakers or dog walkers, and transfer any records and medications to the new doctor.

As silly as it may sound, it helps to find an agent that understands how hard it can be to find the perfect match for your WHOLE family when your dog runs the show. We all know animal lovers are among the most trustworthy and beloved, so never hesitate to ask any questions necessary during the interview process!

Staging Secrets with Minted Spaces

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I was so thrilled when Aryn at Minted Spaces reached out to me to meet up. I had swooned over her work for the longest time, and it was so fun to get to sit down and chat all things home over a cup of coffee. The most interesting takeaway, and what I really think sets Aryn apart, is that she has a background in psychology. It’s hard to realize until you’re in the moment, but we are so attached to our homes and our belongings, whether buying, selling, or even decluttering. I asked Aryn to share the scoop on her process and how you can get that perfectly staged feeling in your home without driving yourself insane and selling all your things online. Keep in mind, many of these suggestions are awesome to keep in mind day-to-day, even if you don’t plan to sell your home!

What is the first thing you think a buyer notices when they walk into a home?

I think the first thing buyers notice is more of a feeling than actual tangible items. Most buyers want to walk into this magical “ah this is home” feeling. While that might look a little different for everyone, overall you can accomplish this by creating a neutral and warm space.

What is a quick way to make your home feel “staged” in under an hour?

First, remove all personal photos. No one is going to have that “ah this is my home” feeling if they see the current homeowner on the walls. Next, focus on the main rooms: kitchen, dining, master bedroom, and living room. If you have a partner, it may be best to split up to cover more ground.

In the kitchen and dining room, make sure all surfaces are clear of clutter and clean. Don’t go overboard though, you want a few décor items out to give it that cozy feel. In the living room be sure the couch has pillows placed near the arms, and a throw blanket over the arm or back of the couch for an extra cozy feel. Sweep/vacuum the floors before finishing up in this room. For the master bedroom, be sure to make the bed (preferably with light colored bedding), toss a throw near the foot of the bed, and clear the surfaces of any vanities, dressers, and nightstands. Adding some flowers (real or faux) helps give this space a retreat feel.

Bonus tip! Have some Scentsy, diffuser or other flameless candle options strategically placed in these main rooms. Vanilla and jasmine scents are proven to be relaxing while lifting people’s moods. If you’re listing in November and December, using cinnamon and pine scents will evoke a cozy feeling. Just be sure to not have them be too strong, as some people get migraines when the scent is overwhelming.  

Is there any advice you find yourself giving over and over to clients? 

Everything I listed above is in nearly every staging consult list I give to clients. Another one is to add real or faux plants to rooms to bring texture and life to a space. Snake plants are excellent for staging. They are tough little buggers and can handle being forgotten about for weeks. They’re also very trendy. There’s no need to repot them, you can simply stick them as-is into a wicker basket and bam! You’re living room is Instagram worthy.

What tips do you have for keeping your house organized and show-ready but also livable? 

The first is to de-clutter. This is easiest to do by season. If you’re listing in the summer, go ahead and pack away all those sweaters, coats, boots, and sleds. This should empty out the closets some.

Next, wicker/cloth baskets are your new best friend. These make closets and cube storage spaces look put together when really, the inside of those baskets can be a hot mess. These are perfect for throwing all the shoes into, then placing in the entryway closet. Toys in the living room? Wicker baskets with lids are your friend. Tuck one under a window and add a pillow on top, and now it’s a cozy area for showings.

Finally, have a plan and delegate. Everyone who lives in the home should have their own set to-do list before leaving the house. This eliminates the frantic, random cleaning where you and your partner are going over the same spaces. If you have pets or children, have a bag packed and ready to go near the door with snacks, toys, treats, and whatever else they may need over the course of a few hours. Doing all of these should help get you and your family out the door with minimal stress.

Hopefully you can implement some of these tips to make your home magazine-worthy, whether you are listing or just nesting!

Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Homeowner

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Helping a friend plan a wedding can be one of the most selfless, emotional and exciting investments of your 20’s and 30’s. This year alone I will either be in or attending 13 weddings, and y’all, I get it! It’s overwhelming! So many of my friends are delaying homeownership in the interest of helping their friends’ dreams come true but it’s rarely so black and white. Today I’m going to share with you how it’s not only feasible, but actually PRACTICAL to spring for a home in the throes of your bridesmaid duties.

First of all, your organizational skills are at an all-time high. If you’ve never tried to plan a bachelorette party complete with t-shirts, dinners, activities, deposits, and EMOTIONS, then you can’t call yourself a multi-tasker. Let’s all be honest, getting your friends to move in the same direction is like herding cats- vegan, gluten-free, sometimes pregnant, opinionated cats. As a bridesmaid you are constantly meeting deadlines, providing feedback and staying in contact with multiple people. All of these skills are necessary in buying a home and take time to sharpen. Therefore, there’s no reason not to strike while you’re at the top of your game! Plus, if you choose the right Realtor, the pressure will be totally off. They’ll be the ones searching for properties for you, going to bat in negotiations, and even booking appointments with contractors and inspectors.

Next, for every wedding you participate in as a guest or a maid, consider the number of events you’re contributing to. Add up all of the time you spend looking for restaurants with private rooms, begging your apartment complex to extend the time you can have that little room off the lobby, and throwing money at bartenders because your friends drink Prosecco like water. Now, consider a venue that’s free of charge, has no restrictions or time limits, and requires NO Uber for you when you’ve deservingly hit the “Miss-mosa Bar” like a train. That place could be YOUR HOME! You could have the freedom to decorate how you please, avoid hauling decorations or food into someone else’s space, and have free reign to stay as long and be as loud as you’d like. I promise you, when you start to see the dollar signs add up for brunch buffets, gifts and venue deposits, you’ll understand that you could save you and your friends upwards of $1,000 per wedding.

I see you out there with your cute punny hashtags and your t-shirt designs. Girl, you are CREATIVE! Why not apply that creativity to find your home? If you find a flexible, innovative Realtor, you can be open with them about opting for an AirBNB space, garage apartment or in-law suite. Imagine offering a place for your girls to get ready, for local college students to crash or to house family from out of town before a big weekend. Whether you side hustle on Etsy with those “Bride-to-Be” sashes or gain passive income with a short-term rental opportunity, you have options to rake in the dough you need to buy that extra Kitchenaid attachment.

Lastly, if you aren’t capitalizing on the trips you book and the dollars you rack up on your credit card, you are throwing away money. Now, I am by NO MEANS saying to go open up a new line of credit without talking to a mortgage lender or trusted advisor. However, you can upgrade a current account to get flight miles, refer a friend to your preferred card for a bonus, or redeem your accrued points for gift cards and travel perks. You might be bleeding money like no other at this time in your life, but it can pay to spend wisely if you use the right credit card. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has allowed me to redeem multiple plane tickets, hotel stays and gift cards to Nordstrom/Lowe’s/Wayfair.

The bottom line is that homeownership sounds intimidating and is one of the easiest things to put on the back burner. Doing so can be doing yourself a major disservice long term! There’s no reason to build equity for your landlord by investing too much in rent when you could potentially be spending less on a mortgage and a space to call your own!

 

 

 

How to Argue Effectively

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I was raised in a home where “discussions” were considered a sport. Think: “what do you call banana pudding made without bananas?” and “does a week start on Sunday or Monday? (…What constitutes this week? Next week?! Don’t get me started.) This carried over into my marriage where I forever have browser tabs open settling disputes like “Times Square not a square?” and “antelope carnivore??”. In today’s combative, sensitive world, how do you artfully toe the line between workplace exploration and obnoxious ex-neighbor on Facebook?

If I’m being totally honest, my first instinct when approaching a post about disagreement was to just pout, storm away and stop this post before it even started because I DON’T CARE ANYWAY. However, in my long history of remaining friends with those who drive me crazy, here are a few things that have worked for me:

  1. Ask questions and try to understand: It’s always interesting to me to understand WHY the other person thinks the way they do. It’s hard to word this without sounding cheeky (and why do you think that?) but you can ask questions that will help you get informed, follow their train of thought and tie in your points later on.
  2. Be informed: The most frustrating thing for me in political discussions with my husband is when I enter territory where I feel uninformed. That immediately makes me feel defensive and want to hurl a “YOU’RE JUST WRONG AND DUMB” bomb or cry in an upscale Mexican restaurant over gun control. If you decide to pursue a dispute, make sure you are prepared with facts that support your side or address points the other person might bring up. The difference in how you feel after an argument is largely based on the degree of educated, unemotional and factual statements.
  3. Know the right time: With most of my friends and family, I have an arsenal of hot button items that I know can tip us into argument-ville. I am aware of which topics will NEVER be resolved, and which are open to mutual discussion.  I also know when I last ate, when Mercury is in Retrograde, when we have been on an 11 hour road trip together, and when we are low on sleep and high on hormones. If you truly want to argue with growth and understanding in mind, pick a time when everyone is sane, full and well rested. If you do not care about that, pick a time when everyone is on the edge and hangry and PMSing and watch the fur fly in circles forever.
  4. #RightReasons: Begin by understanding that there is a 99.8% chance you will never change that person’s mind. Go in hoping to learn, educate, or kill time until you find that mythical Sonic off some exit in Georgia. Look for the strength in your opposing views, especially if they have to do with the future of your relationship or your family. Will your differing political views forever ruin your unborn child? Only if you’re a jerk about it. Instead of letting it keep you up at night re-reading your horoscope compatibility, take comfort instead that you will have an educated, well-rounded offspring who can make their own decisions.
  5. DO NOT GLOAT: Last but definitely not least, if someone ever does come around to your point of view, welcome them with open arms. The fastest way to make someone bitter for life is to remind them of that time they were wrong, or congratulate them on their arrival to righteousness FINALLY ONLY AFTER I BULLIED YOU FOR 8 YEARS. Do not forward them chain letters about how they will die if they do not see the merit in your book club book pick. Avoid dropping off VHS tapes of Dateline where people’s kids ate too much red meat. Just trust that you provided enough good information for them to realize how right you are. They’ll get there.

 

How Do You Measure a (Real Estate) Year?

Some of the most asked questions I hear as a Realtor begin with “Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 12.22.46 PM.pngwhen should I…?” So, I compiled a VERY extensive list of all of my advice, broken out for buyers, sellers, homeowners and renters. If you’d prefer to just see a segmented list, click the links below for downloadable lists:

Buyers & Sellers

Renters

Homeowners

January -February

  • Buyers– This is the time of year to get prepared for a busy spring! Begin by finding a Realtor that you love and ask for suggestions on lenders you could meet with. The key is to get pre-approved, determine your budget and get the pieces in place so making an offer is turnkey when you’ve found The One. Consider making suggested improvements to your credit and topping off your savings after establishing your mortgage goals. If you are desperate for a home, there are often homes that went on the market during the late fall or early holiday season that are ready for a price-drop.
  • Sellers- This is your time to prepare as well. Begin interviewing agents to help you determine the value of your home, assist in suggesting repairs and getting the home ready to list. As you clean, paint and prepare your home, consider talking to your agent about a “coming soon” status approaching spring to generate interest while updates are being wrapped up. ALWAYS talk to an agent before doing major work on your home in order to sell it. There’s a chance the return might not be what you are hoping for, and a potential to over-improve your home and make it difficult to sell.
  • Homeowners- Angie’s List shares that “despite the thought of working outside in the cold winter months, this is actually a good time to start an addition. Frozen ground and dry air are better for digging foundations and pouring concrete footers than muddy ground and humidity. If your foundation is completed and the room addition is framed before the rainy season, the space can be under cover during the unpredictable spring weather. You’ll likely have fewer ‘rain days’ where no one works on the construction site. In addition, the winter months tend to be less busy for builders, because everyone is waiting for spring and tax refunds to start their home projects.”
  • Renters: The savings on rentals typically extend from October-April, so this is still a great time to snag a deal. Additionally, if you have a longer lead time and are anxious to start searching, consider a new construction building. Companies often want to complete projects before the busy rental season, and may offer bonuses and discounts on top of being a brand-new property.

March – May

  • Buyers/sellers: This timeframe is considered the “spring market” where activity is at a peak. While you might see a higher inventory, there is also an influx of buyers ready to get outside and find their new home. You might find that intentions aren’t always serious this time of year, as buyers are curious and exploring, and sellers might be testing the waters to see if a high price will generate interest. In this fast-paced season, buyers should be prepared with a budget and your offer terms in your back pocket. Sellers, understand what you would accept and how much you could net from the sale of your home prior to being in an emotional scenario.
  • Renters: Keep in mind that rentals often require 60 day’s notice if you choose to end your lease or pursue another rental. I have in many cases been left paying to break a lease or trying to fill a vacancy because I got excited about a new home, balcony or pool!
  • Homeowners: Due to the weather, this is a better time of year to begin outdoor renovations like sidings and decks. However, this is often the busiest time for builders, so it’s probably when you’ll pay the most money for their time and for materials.

June – September

  • Renters: Rents are often higher in these months when activity is high, especially in the case of a college town. Many people are looking for short term leases during summer internships or moving to new cities to begin jobs. On the flip side, there is a lot of variety and competition between apartment complexes, so discounts are not uncommon.
  • Buyers/Sellers: Consider the pros and cons of listing or searching for a home during this time. You might see a great side of a property and a neighborhood, but you could also be inconvenienced by vacations and holidays.
  • Homeowners: Indoor work like kitchen or bathroom remodelingis great during the summer months. Consider things like grilling outside, washing the dog in the driveway, and all of the options you have for not being cooped up inside while contractors complete work. Surprisingly, roofing projects are often done in the summer, because the roofing material needs certain higher temperatures to seal. If you have a Realtor, ask for trustworthy and reliable contractors that might be able to complete work while you are on vacation so you can avoid the inconvenience altogether!

October-December

  • Buyers/Sellers: Usually if you are seeking a home or hoping to sell your home at this time of year, know that the other party is usually more serious. This is not necessarily the time for curious buyers to hit the market, or for experimenting sellers to put their homes on the market to see what would happen. People are typically more focused on family and friends, so they will be less likely to be searching or wanting people in and out of their homes. Bonus, though, beautifully decorated houses are plentiful and you can find the perfect “Christmas Tree corner” that we all secretly seek during showings.
  • Homeowners: If you need a deal on home improvements and contractors, it could be worth it to consider waiting until during the holidays. Most professionals stay busy leading up to the holidays, so their schedules likely lighten up this time of year.
  • Renters: This is the best time of year to snag affordable rent. According to RentHop, “one-bedroom apartments are between 2.4% and 5.4% cheaper in the winter, while two-bedroom units are between 2.3% and 5.8% more affordable. In dollar figures, that equates to between a $37 and $171 per month savings for one-bedroom rentals and between $36 and $191 for two-bedrooms.”

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Article Sources: MarketWatch, Apartment Guide Blog, Investopedia, Sears Home Services

Odd Things to Refresh

So far, 2018 in the Azzarello household means that for a few weeks nothing is safe from being tossed, donated or stowed in a decorative basket. Between moving and feeling re-energized starting a new career, I have been the mood for all things fresh. I noticed that outside of the big ticket items (pantry, closets, laundry room) I’ve gained great satisfaction from refreshing a few out of the ordinary things I normally would have overlooked.

  1. Keychain– I totally took for granted how many times a day I handled my keys. My key ring was filled with mystery keys, empty rings that add length and weight, and crusty store cards that I barely used. I grabbed a staple remover to hold my key ring open to save my nails, then I removed every keychainkey, card and ring. If you can’t let go, consider an app like Stocard to store your discount cards digitally. Only keep things that are absolutely necessary or fill you with joy. I cut it down to my key fobs, gym card, my library card, my Wendy’s free Frosty for a year card, and my fun pom-pom keychain.
  2. Phone Case- While I know I have a problem picking up my phone itself, I never realized how big of an impact the case makes. In today’s world, it’s the first thing people see and associate with you, as weird as that sounds. I’ve found that the more I switch mine up and the more they resonate with me, the happier I am. I had this reindeer one from H&M on during the holidays, and it was an amazing conversation starter. I’m currently rocking a Target Dollar spot case with jazzy sloshing glitter that says “You’re a Llama fun”, and the happiness and entertainment it brings me is immeasurable. If you are on team practical, at the very least take off your case and wipe down the buttons, screen, and disinfect the back.
  3. Unmentionables– My underthings drawer (including my socks, tights and bras) was an  absolute nicoryghtmare. I saved mismatched socks and sports bras that were hanging on by a thread “just in case”. I even reached into my tights drawer the other day and pulled out TWO pairs with holes in them. Past Me putting those back in the drawer was like leaving Future Me a flaming bag of dog doo on the front stoop.

4. Closet: Hopefully you’ve already pulled out clothes you don’t wear, I don’t need to remind you to do that (but go do it again). I found it incredibly rewarding to take it a step further and make everything “ready to wear”. I pulled out everything remotely wrinkly and ironed it, I shaved pills off of sweaters, cleaned silver jewelry and cut off those annoying hangy things that get in the way while getting dressed. I’m a huge fan of my velvet hangers so I tossed out all of the wire ones and ensured they were all replaced as well.

pens5. Pen holder: For some reason, writing with a dried up pen gives me the willies- like biting into a popsicle. It’s also frustrating and unprofessional to not have a working pen handy that doesn’t advertise a fast food chain. Go through while watching TV and ditch all the pens that are broken, dried up or less than stellar. Sharpen broken pencils, pull out Sharpies and highlighters and stash pens where you most need them.

Sometimes when I start to organize, I get overwhelmed and freeze up after a big project. I hope that this gave you a few more ideas to keep plowing through your spring refresh! What has breathed new life into your routine recently?

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Beating the “Not-Yous”: Pre-Approval

When my husband and I were starting our home search, nothing took the wind out of my sails faster than walking into an open house… with 50 other people. We would sheepishly stand at the curb and pretend like we were in the Realtor.com commercials featuring the “not-yous” who would sneak in and steal the house of your dreams. Even if the house wasn’t a good fit, a layer of defensiveness mixed with shyness (you KNOW that’s not me) washed over me and I lost my will to carry on (dramatic… I know).

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Now, I can’t tell you why this happened, because we were ready to go. We were serious, we were educated and we were, most importantly, PRE-APPROVED for a mortgage by a lender. Oh Libby, you just took something exciting and made it sound terrifying and boring. (Bear with me!)

If you’re in the home buying process right now, you may have heard the words pre-qualified or pre-approved floating around. In today’s market (at least in the Triangle), this went from icing on the cake to an absolute must have for serious buyers. In many situations, a seller might not even consider an offer without at least a pre-qualification letter, and if there are buyers side by side in a bidding war who are pre-qualified vs. pre-approved, the pre-approved buyers will likely win 111000/10 times.

Stopppp. Don’t Care. Simplify.

Being either pre-qualified OR pre-approved by a mortgage lender shows sellers that you have the ability and the interest to buy what they are selling. Full stop.

Being pre-qualified means that you Googled a lender’s phone number or email (or found a form online), you have spoken to them about your income and they have *likely*  pulled your credit score. Read that again: this step is 50% based on what you SAY to a lender. You could call someone up, totally fudge your income and leave with the same pre-qualification letter as someone who was up front and honest. Furthermore, you could purchase a home with a credit score of at least 660, so that won’t really stop you. Please know this is better than nothing, but can you see why a seller prefers someone who’s taken the next step?

Pre-approval is one better in the lending process. It can also be done over the phone and through secure online systems. There is still no commitment to a lender or to a home, but the difference is that you’ll submit some documentation and other paperwork to prove what you’re saying is accurate.

Even if you are just starting, this process shows you how much you can realistically afford. If you are even slightly curious about the market, it’s important to arm yourself with this knowledge and preparation. There’s absolutely no reason to waste your time and your precious emotions falling in love with something you can’t have. We have This Is Us for that.

I know that is a big dose of reality that just rained all over your Open House tour this Sunday. I’ll let it sink in, and be back. next week with another tool for you to arm yourself with to send the “not yous” packing.

PS. If you are ready to learn more or just get a high level view of what the mortgage process could look like, my company offers an in house mortgage banker, Trevor. He’s approachable, informative and FAST at getting you any info you need! 

Buyer Myth #1:

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I wanted to start this series to bust a few myths that my friends and I had wrong before I entered the world of Real Estate. I’d love feedback if these are things you already know, or if you have other things you’ve always wondered!

The most common thing I hear from people curious about buying a home is that they’d rather save money than pay a buyer’s agent to show them homes when they can find them using sites like Realtor.com and Zillow.

WRONG! This is a fun one to blow up, because I can tell you that working with an agent is 100% free to you. The cost to have your very own advisor/guard dog/courier/therapist/chauffeur/DJ is paid for by the seller in a residential transaction, even in a new construction home (more on that soon!). Buyers and sellers have incredibly different needs and it’s invaluable to have someone protecting your OWN interest and going to bat on your behalf. 

Furthermore, tools readily available to consumers are nowhere near as powerful as those your agent would have. We can provide immediate, accurate, and consistently updated information on new properties and price changes, and have access to homes that haven’t even hit the market yet.

If you take anything away from today, please know that there’s no cost or obligation to be curious, even if you’re not sure what you want or if you’re ready!