Save Money and Discover Bargains at Local Yard Sales

Stopping by local garage sales in search of bargains and treasures is a lot like panning for gold. Some days you’ll be sifting through a lot of rubble before you discover the hidden gems. Other days, you’ll hit the mother lode, right away! Whether you’re looking for cheap books, antique furniture, unique jewelry, retro clothing, statues, gardening tools, or gently used toys, you can expect to stumble upon some very interesting and worthwhile items — usually at extremely low prices.

Keys to Bargain Hunting Success

Many people who attend garage sales on a regular basis seem to have developed a system to ferret out what they’re looking for, spot bargains, and negotiate the lowest possible prices. They often don’t even get out of their cars if the items displayed fail to catch their interest.

Yard sales attract a wide variety of people, but the ones who find the best stuff at the lowest prices know the value of persistence, getting an early start, and advance planning. Many are quite adept at surfing the Web, clippings ads, and using social media to find promising yard sales to check out.

The Seasoned Garage Sale Hunter

In addition to a natural curiosity about the unexpected treasures they might find in their travels, they recognize the following underlying truths about garage sales.

  • There are two main reasons that people hold garage sales: to make extra money and to get rid of things they no longer need or want. In most cases, they’re highly motivated to make sales and do not expect to rake in boatloads of money. If they happen to be in the process of selling their house and getting ready to move, they should be especially motivated to clear out all their garage sale inventory. The last thing they want to see is an interested customer with a wad of cash in their hands walk away because the price wasn’t right. If you make a reasonable offer, chances are they’ll either accept it or make a counteroffer. By cultivating some basic negotiating skills and learning to have fun with it, you can pick up some amazing deals in your neighborhood.
  • At first, going to garage sales may seem like a hit-or-miss proposition. However, persistence pays off. Good timing, a little bit of luck, and being in the right place at the right time will eventually work in your favor. It’s sort of a “numbers game,” so if you plan to visit a few different yard sales in one morning, you’re bound to find all kinds of worthwhile treasures and bargains.
  • If you know what you’re looking for and have a pretty good idea of what its worth, you’ll be in a good position to make reasonable offers and walk away with exceptional deals.

Whether you’re looking for a used guitar, an inexpensive desk for a college student, or some hard-to-find first-edition books, you never know what you’re going to discover when you dedicate a Saturday or Sunday morning to some serious garage sale shopping!

What to Include in a Home Repair Checklist

A home repair checklist can make a world of difference for any home seller, at any time. With this checklist in hand, a home seller can prioritize assorted home repairs. Plus, a home repair checklist helps ensure that a seller can enhance his or her house before adding it to the real estate market.

Ultimately, there are several items to include in a home repair checklist, such as:

1. Inspecting and Repairing the Roof

If you notice damaged, loose or missing roof shingles, you’ll want to repair or replace these shingles immediately. That way, you can improve your home’s roof – something that may make your house more attractive than others to dozens of potential buyers.

Remember, many homebuyers don’t want to deal with the hassle of roof repairs. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to repair your roof today, you can include details about your upgraded roof in your home listing. Thus, roof repairs may help you increase the likelihood of a fast, profitable home sale.

When it comes to roof repairs, it often pays to hire professionals. Reach out to local roof repair companies, and you should have no trouble upgrading your house’s roof.

2. Sealing Cracks and Gaps in Windows and Doors

Cracks and gaps in windows and doors can cause warm or cold air to leak outside a house. As a result, these problems can drive up a homeowner’s monthly heating and cooling bills.

Fortunately, sealing cracks and gaps in windows and doors can be quick and easy. In most instances, caulk or weather stripping can help minimize these issues. Or, you can always reach out to local contractors for professional assistance as well.

3. Power-Washing Windows and Siding

Your home’s curb appeal can have a significant impact on how quickly your residence sells. If you power-wash your residence’s windows and siding, you can instantly boost your home’s curb appeal and help your residence stand out to potential buyers.

Oftentimes, you can rent a power-washer from a home improvement store. You also may choose to buy a power-washer; by doing so, you can use your power-washer both now and in the future.

A home repair checklist is a must-have for home sellers, regardless of the current housing market’s conditions. If you need extra help determining which home repairs to complete prior to listing your residence, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent too.

By hiring a real estate agent, you can receive expert guidance throughout the home selling journey. A real estate agent can put you in touch with the best local contractors to help you finish myriad home repairs. In addition, a real estate agent will help you promote your residence to the right groups of buyers and ensure that you can generate substantial interest in your house.

Ready to sell your house? Include the aforementioned items in your home repair checklist, and you can upgrade your residence in no time at all.

Homebuyer Tips: Enjoy a Seamless Closing

The weeks and days leading up to a home closing can be stressful, particularly for a homebuyer who is already trying to do everything possible to secure his or her dream residence. Fortunately, we’re here to help you simplify the process of getting to your closing date.

Now, let’s take a look at three tips to ensure you can enjoy a fast, easy home closing.

1. Get Your Paperwork Ready

It often helps to get all of your homebuying paperwork ready before you pursue a residence. That way, you can minimize the last-minute stress associated with searching far and wide for pay stubs, tax returns and other documents that you’ll ultimately need to get financing for a residence.

Furthermore, you should meet with local banks and credit unions as soon as you can. If you can get approved for a mortgage prior to starting a home search, you may be able to speed up the process of acquiring your ideal residence.

2. Be Prepared to Cover Your Closing Costs

Although you might have financing to cover your monthly mortgage payments, it is important to remember that you may need to pay closing costs to finalize your home purchase. As such, if you begin saving for your closing costs today, you can guarantee that you’ll have the necessary funds available to purchase your dream residence on your scheduled closing date.

Also, you should be prepared to present a cashier’s check or wire funds when you close on a house. If you plan ahead, you should have no paying off your closing costs when your complete your home purchase.

3. Schedule Your Final Walk-Through Before Your Closing Date

When it comes to a final walk-through on your dream house, why should you leave anything to chance? Instead, set up the final walk-through at least a few days before you’re scheduled to close on a house.

If you find problems with a house during a final walk-through, you’ll want to give the seller plenty of time to address these issues. Thus, if you schedule a final walk-through several days before your closing date, you can ensure that any home problems can be corrected without putting your closing date in danger.

For homebuyers who are worried about a home closing, there is no need to stress. In fact, if you work with an expert real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey.

Typically, a real estate agent can explain what you should expect in the time leading up to your closing date. If you have any concerns or questions before a home closing, a real estate agent is happy to address them. Plus, when your closing date arrives, a real estate agent will help you remain calm, cool and collected as you purchase a home.

Ready to streamline the process of closing on a house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a quick, seamless home closing.

An Introduction to Down Payments for First Time Homebuyers

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial milestones you’ll reach in your life. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, it can be scary to take the plunge and make a down payment on your first home.

Down payments are one element that makes up the factors which determine your monthly mortgage payments, and in turn, how much you’ll be paying toward your home in total. So, it’s important to understand just how much to save for a down payment.

In this article, we’ll talk about down payments, why they matter, and your options for saving up for a down payment.

Why down payments matter

A down payment is simply the amount of money a buyer pays at the time of closing on the house. Down payments help assure lenders that you will make your monthly mortgage payments because you have invested a substantial amount of money into the house and therefore risk losing your down payment if you fail to pay the mortgage and your house is foreclosed on.

If you’re eager to buy your first home, you may want to make the smallest down payment possible so you can move in sooner. However, a smaller down payment typically means a larger monthly mortgage payment. That’s because your mortgage payment depends on several factors.

When a lender determines how much they will lend you towards your home and how much your monthly mortgage payments will be, their formula takes into account your down payment, your credit score, and the value of the property. The higher your credit score and the higher your down payment is, the less your monthly payments will be.

Mortgage types and down payments

Many first time home buyers cannot afford large down payments on their first home (20% or more). As a result, there are loan types insured by the Federal Housing Administration that are offered for as low as 3.5% of the mortgage amount.

If you aren’t approved for an FHA loan but plan on making a down payment of less than 20%, you can still buy a home with private mortgage insurance (PMI). With PMI you pay a monthly premium for your insurance in addition to your monthly mortgage payments.

How long and how much to save

So, how much should you save? The short answer is as much as possible. However, if you need to move soon because of life circumstances, it isn’t always an option to hold off on moving for long periods of time.

If you’re currently renting each month at high prices, it might make more sense to put that money towards your first home, an asset which will likely increase in value, rather than spend it on rent which you get no return on.  

One of the best ways to save for a down payment is to set up a new cash savings account that will automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck each week. Having an off-limits account is a great way to save without the temptation of spending it on luxuries if the money would normally be sitting in your checking account.

Another option is to start investing. If you’re in no rush to buy a home and have the financial resources, investing pays off much more than a savings account does when it comes to increasing assets.

Regardless of how you choose to save, the most important takeaway is that you take action now to start saving and you don’t deviate from your savings plan for any reason.