6 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes — Part 1

 6 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes— Part 1

Starting out on your first time home buyer journey?

You have probably already learned that the process can be overwhelming, which can sometimes lead to analysis paralysis. But don’t fret.  I’ve got your back!

Perhaps you’re a novice real estate shopper. Or maybe you have an investor’s drive. If you're looking to make your real estate journey as simple as possible, you're in the right place. This week and next I’ll be covering six common first time home buyer mistakes, and addressing how to avoid them.

Let's dive into the first three:

1. Not knowing your budget

In my years of serving clients, I have seen it time and time again: someone calls asking to be shown a property, or asking for help in finding a house in my area. When I ask them what they have for a budget, I get either silence or stammers, followed by some version of “I’m not sure” or “I haven’t thought about it yet.”

Well, I’m here to tell you: no one else knows your budget better than you.

I’m not talking about what you think you can spend, or relying on some article or quick online calculator. I mean sit down and look at the nitty gritty numbers of your income, spending, and savings patterns. Talk with a lender or financial advisor about your long-term plans and how home ownership fits within them. Understand all of the expenses that come with owning and buying a home, and know that you can handle them when it is time to write the checks.

That truly is the best place to start.

2. Not researching down payment programs

Down payments used to be much more simple. Banks wanted 20% down, and when you had that you got approved for a mortgage, shopped for a home in your budget, signed on the dotted line, and got the keys to your new place.

Now there are so many down payment programs out there, and they all fit circumstances differently. Historically high home values mean that it’s actually pretty rare for someone to come to the table with 20% down. This is especially true for first time home buyers. Working with a trusted lender is so important because they can help you understand all of your options, and the pros and cons that come with each.

3. Working with a lender or agent who want to up sell

Years ago, McDonald’s started their “Super Size Me” marketing program. Every time they sold a combo meal, the cashier was to ask the customer if they wanted to Super Size their meal to a large fry and drink. Studies showed that when people were asked this question, more often than not they did upgrade to the larger, more expensive meal.

Who exactly did this up sell benefit, I ask you? The customer? Nope. (If you’re not sure about this answer, check out the documentary, "Super Size Me").

It only benefited, McDonald’s, of course. The customer didn’t ask for a large drink and fry, so they obviously didn’t step to the counter with that size of hunger in their belly. They purchased the bigger meal because they were presented with the option to purchase it. As a result they got more food than they needed and spent more money than they intended to spend.

Some real estate agents and lenders operate the same way.

You come to their figurative counter with a desire--and a budget--for a home that suits your needs. Then they start asking you if you want to Supersize it. They may take you to houses out of your budget or show you features you never knew you wanted, or encourage you to stretch your budget beyond what you know you can spend.  Before you know it you can’t tell your wants from your needs, and you spend more than you were planning.

Not sure what to look for in an agent to begin with? Check out my post, 5 Important questions for some good questions to ask yourself and your potential agents.

Remember, I have three more critical mistakes for you to avoid, so be sure to check out next week’s blog post for Part 2 of this post.

In the meantime, if you’ve been wondering what your next step should be, download your free Buyer’s Guide today!

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All the best,

Forming Better Habits for a Better Me in 2020

My family poses for a picture when my oldest children were young--they (and my youngest) are my reasons for creating better habits for a better me.

Forming Better Habits for a Better Me in 2020

My family poses for a picture when my oldest children were young--they (and my youngest) are my reasons for creating better habits for a better me.Well, here we are again, nearing the end of yet another year--and another DECADE! Truth be told, I am not a big fan of this time of the year. It’s cold and grey here in the Pacific Northwest. The holidays can be so busy and exhausting. And now our culture tells me I am supposed to slow down and self reflect on my past and set resolutions for forming better habits in the year to come? 

Ugh. Just—ugh.

I don’t know about you, but that's only fun when there is no pressure. I mean I know I have had some good times and successes, but if I really did take the time to reflect, then I’d have to admit my failures, right? And who has time to talk about that stuff? 

Here’s the thing that has become clear to me recently: I can do better. Without going into too much detail (because it’s not all my story to tell), life has come at me in the last couple of years, and now I realize that I have unintentionally become reactive instead of proactive

What does that even mean, Carmen?

It means that instead of taking control of my time and energy--our two most precious individual resources--I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my days playing catch up, reacting to whatever is happening around me instead of being more intentional with what gets my attention.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m a Mama, Wife, and Daughter before I am anything else—and my family matters more to me than anything—so I’ve not hesitated to drop my own thing to help them with theirs. 

But along the way I have learned that I really do have to put on my own proverbial oxygen mask first if I’m going to continue to be of any help to those I truly do want to help, let alone reach my own dreams in life and business.

Like it or not, I need to set some hard-edged goals to create better habits in order to do better and be better for myself, my family, and my clients. 

So here goes nothing! I’m putting out my three New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 here, onto the eternal public internet, and asking each of you to help hold me accountable. Some of these I’ve already started working on over the last several months, but I want to renew my promise to care for myself with this new year. Will you join me?

1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Okay, I know this is nothing new to most of us, but there are only 24 hours in a day. On top of that limiting fact, I find that the more years that go by, the more sleep I need. This is really annoying to me, because sleeping cuts into my time to get stuff done! 

Since I can’t add more hours to my days, I‘m diligently working on implementing these two tasks:

5:30 a.m. WAKE UP

9:30 p.m. BEDTIME

Admittedly, rolling out of bed at 5:30 a.m. when I didn't go to sleep until midnight or later is a huge struggle, so I've had to learn to send myself to bed much earlier than I ever have before. But I am beginning to see how much more productive I can be with my limited time when I protect those eight hours and give my mind and body a rest.

2. Move My Body Everyday

There are days when I sit in my car, at a meeting, or at my desk working for hours on end. While my brain is running a million miles a minute, my body is sitting like a lump on a log. Sound familiar? 

All of this sitting leaves me feeling so sluggish. I used to do heavy workouts every single day, and honestly I loved it, but in this current season of life I just do not have the hours in the day to dedicate to that anymore. 

However, there is a lot of middle ground between heavy daily workouts and sitting like a slug. My goal is to move each day. Shifting my perspective on this is helping me see how to squeeze things in where I can.

I try to remember that the goal of moving my body is not to become a supermodel. It is a form of payment for all the amazing things my body does for me without request. And I am giving myself permission to accept that I don’t have to do anything too intense. Something as simple as squeezing in a brisk 15 minute walk while waiting for my kids to get out of practice, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Bonus if I can get in a kickboxing class at the studio up the road. The point is to get my blood flowing, muscles working, and ligaments stretched EVERY SINGLE DAY!

3. Cultivate Healthy Friendships 

If you’d asked 15-year-old me if I thought I’d still have to deal with bullies and mean girls in my 30s, I would have said I certainly hope not! But news flash: they still exist, and for a lot of people high school never really ends. Some people are just mean. Frenemies are a real thing, and man, can they tear us down if we’re not careful. 

People pleasing and modifying our actions to suit someone else's agenda is just not a good option. It can be hard to determine a frenemy from a true friend sometimes, so I’ve come up with two Secret 3 Strikes rules that have been game changers for me. 

  1. I will not call, text, or communicate with someone more than 3 times without reciprocation. I am not a needy person, but I also know that healthy relationships are not one-sided. If I reach out 3 times and someone doesn’t respond, then the ball is in their court. I won’t chase the ball for them. We can still be friends! But I refuse to be the only one working on the relationship.
  2. If someone gossips to me 3 or more times, I become very careful about what I say around that person, and even limit or cease interaction with them if needed or possible. You know that old saying “If they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you”? If someone gossips to you, you can guarantee they'll gossip about you, too. And I don’t have time for that drama and negativity in my life. There is a huge difference between venting about a situation and tearing someone else's character apart.

So there you have it, the three habits I want to cultivate even more in my life this year to become a better me.

What are your resolutions and goals for the new year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my 3 Important questions to ask yourself.

 

All the best,

Spread Some Holiday Cheer in 5 Simple Ways

A little bit of holiday cheer spread by a small wide-eyed dog sitting on grey chair leaning against a festive red pillow

Spread Some Holiday Cheer in 5 Simple Ways

Small wide-eyed dog sitting on grey chair leaning against a festive red pillow
It’s the little things that matter most when spreading holiday cheer!

How is your December going? Are you feeling the joy? I sure hope so! If you are, I encourage you to spread the holiday cheer to others, because not everyone is feeling it right now. Here are some fun ways to pay it forward and brighten someone else’s day.

1. Play Ding-Dong Ditch with a purpose.

Did you ever play this game as a kid? I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of other kids, and I think we played it every summer. Now that I’m a grown up I can see the downfalls to this obnoxious game, so I figure if the kids are going to do it anyway, let’s do it for a FUN reason! We like to make some chocolate covered pretzels, ring the doorbell of a friend or neighbor, and leave them these yummy treats behind. I’m not sure if this makes me an awesome mom, or a terrible one...

2. Share some hot chocolate.

We have had a nice big snow storm here the last few years, so going to the local hills for sledding is one of our top priorities. Last year there was a family that brought a bunch of thermoses to the snow park and shared hot chocolate with us. It was so thoughtful and generous. I don't normally encourage people to take sweets from strangers, but this would be one of those extenuating circumstances. It made our day even more memorable, and motivates me to find ways to do the same for others that cross my path during this hectic season.

3. Deliver coffee & snacks.

My first born nephew was born six weeks premature. He weighed 4 lbs and the smallest little peanut I had ever seen. Thanks to the amazing NICU nurses and doctors he pulled through, and he is now a strapping young teenager. Even though they had their own lives and holiday stresses, the NICU staff never stopped serving the families around them that needed some extra TLC. Over the years we have made it a point to drop off some extra special treats at the NICU for them on Christmas Eve, as a way to honor the ways they serve others even when it’s hard. Who in your world goes out of their way to help others, and might be deserving of a little TLC themselves? 

4. Hand Out Candy Canes.

This trick came from a young friend that had a very difficult lot in life. She told me that her favorite part of the holiday season was getting a candy cane—such a simple thing, that many of us take for granted. I just about cried my eyes out when she told me, but I could tell that she was genuinely grateful for that little gesture. And it’s so easy to do! Carry some candy canes, and hand them out randomly to people you see who may need just a touch of holiday cheer in their lives. Circumstances are hard for a lot of people, especially this time of year, but a moment of simple joy is contagious.

5. Spend Some Quality Time.

We all show and receive love in different ways. Two very important men in my life feel most loved by me when I carve out quality time with them for talking, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. Time is our most precious commodity. No matter how much money is in your bank account or what our job title is, we all get the same amount of time each day so we need to spend it wisely. Sharing it with those who matter is the best investment you can make with your time, am I right?!

I hope you found these fun little ideas inspiring, and that they spur you on to share some cheer.

Click the button below to download a free printable of this list to keep as a reminder!

All the best,

Want more holiday encouragement and ideas? Check out some recent posts below:

The Ultimate Christmas Checklist

A hand taking holding a cell phone up to take a picture of a christmas tree glowing with white lights, the person savoring the moment instead of adhering to a rigid Christmas checklist.

The Ultimate Christmas Checklist

We are T-minus 19 days until Christmas!

A hand taking holding a cell phone up to take a picture of a christmas tree glowing with white lights, the person savoring the moment instead of adhering to a rigid Christmas checklist.
Remember to take in the beauty of the season.

The holiday season is in full swing. Are you feeling the holiday joy? Or are you feeling bogged down by all of the tasks and to-do’s that come with this season, or with the sorrows and bittersweet memories of missed loved ones and years gone by? 

Well, I am here to help. 

Throw out your never ending lists of things to do, and take a deep breath: here is the only Christmas Checklist you actually need.

Poster Version Dec 6th 2019 Ultimate Christmas Checklist

Want to print this to display as a reminder to focus on what matters? Download it and share it, too!

In case you missed it, be sure to check out my recent post about finding holiday joy.

All the best,

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