Pop Quiz: When it comes to putting money down on a new house, your clients should:

  1. See if they’ll accept Monopoly money
  2. Put down as much as possible
  3. Put down as little as possible
  4. Pay in doughnuts

As much as Answer A would be nice, in most cases, your clients will put some sum of money down when buying a new house. But the amount will vary, and every situation is different. Plenty of clients have probably asked you about this part of the process. They’re wondering if they have enough money to slap down to buy the house and then finance the rest. Many people think they must have a big chunk of change for a down payment in order to even buy a home. That’s simply not true. Continue reading

You know the type. The know-it-all type. The person who, no matter who else is around, has all the answers…always the smartest one in the room.

In the age of seemingly infinite online resources that can teach anyone how to do (or at least attempt) almost anything, more people believe that they don’t need to hire a professional for much, if anything.

In some cases, that might be true. Google “How to fix a toilet,” “How to build a deck,” or “Tips for changing a riding mower belt,” and many people would learn enough to give it at least a shot. But just because they might be able to do those things (kind of) doesn’t mean they will be done exactly right or that they couldn’t benefit more by hiring a professional with the expertise to handle the task.

This is also true when it comes to buying and selling homes. With more and more home listings available digitally – photo galleries, 3-D virtual tours, and videos – some folks think they can act as their own real estate agent. I mean, how hard could it be – put a “For Sale by Owner” sign in the yard and wait for the phone to ring off the hook. Right? Continue reading


The sports world is on the cusp of one of the most exciting times of the year – March Madness, the Masters golf tournament, and Major League Baseball spring training. But there’s another season about to begin that’s likely to be just as competitive and high stakes – especially for you and some of your clients.

With Presidents’ Day in the rearview mirror and the weather about to trend warmer (hopefully soon), it’s now officially home buying season. And this year, it could be as cut-throat as ever.

A combination of low inventory, high consumer demand, and historically low interest rates will fuel a more competitive housing market than usual. That’s great news for sellers and agents. But potential homebuyers won’t have home-court advantage in this year’s spring housing season. In order to score the home they want at a reasonable price and within their budget, they’ll need some help from you.

Scouting report…

  1. According to a new survey by the National Association of Home Builders, about 40 percent of home buyers said the primary reason they haven’t bought a house yet is that they keep getting outbid by other buyers. A year earlier, 44 percent said unaffordable prices were the biggest reason they hadn’t bought yet, and only 19 percent cited getting outbid.
  2. In another survey by Redfin, 56 percent of buyers faced bidding wars on their offers in January 2021. That is up from 52 percent just a month earlier. Also, more than half of homes are now going under contract in less than two weeks. That’s fast.

You know from experience that some clients looking to buy can get frustrated and impatient with the process. Sometimes it takes a long time to find just the right house. Other times, they get lucky (with a little help from you) and spot their dream home, only to get outbid by someone else or have the deal fall through because of a bad inspection report or other issues.

So as you head into home buying season and look to find potential buyers for your long list of listings, you’ll need to coach your buyer clients on how to win the bidding war. Sometimes, it takes more than just being the highest bidder to get the victory.

Here are some strategies that should be in your playbook this spring to help your buyer clients:

  • Act fast: Just like any other attractive product, the best homes sell quickly. If your buyer seems to be an “I’ll know it when I see it” type of consumer, encourage them to make an offer the same day you show them the property. Especially if you know there is lots of other interest. To get a jump-start on other potential buyers, tell your clients that if they see a “home for sale” sign on a property they know they’d be interested in, they should contact you right away instead of waiting for the listing to show up online.
  • Get pre-approved: Encourage your buyers to get pre-approved for a mortgage before they even start home shopping. That way, they’ll already know how much they can borrow, which will dictate how high they can bid.
  • Inspector gadget: Tell your buyers to have an inspector already on deck before they begin house hunting. If they find what they want quickly, they can get the process moving if they are prepared.
  • Count the costs: Suggest that your buyer factors in taxes, insurance, maintenance, and other costs, in addition to their payment, before making an offer. Math matters.
  • Go big or go home: The sellers want serious offers. So your buyers should come with their strongest offer right out of the gate. A sellers’ market isn’t the time to work too hard to get a deal.
  • Pay closing: Encourage your clients to avoid asking the seller to help pay for closing costs. The more hoops the seller has to jump through to take your offer, the less likely they are to take it. Especially if they think they can command more money from someone else.
  • Play the short game: Suggest that buyers consider shortening contingencies for inspection and appraisal or be willing to negotiate on repairs to appeal to the seller and shorten the entire process.
  • Write a love letter: The seller is selling, but there are probably some bittersweet feelings about it. They made some memories in that house and probably want it to go to someone who will appreciate it as much as they did. Suggest that your buyers write to the seller the day after getting the tour to tell them how much they loved the house and why you want to live there. You never know – scoring some brownie points like this might be enough to win a possible bidding war.
  • Be accessible: The last thing your buyer would want is to miss a phone call from you looking to confirm your bid. Tell them to have their phone nearby (with the ringer on) and watch their email inbox. Losing a bidding war at the buzzer could be a costly loss.

*Not all borrowers will qualify. Contact us for more information on fees and terms. Not intended as legal, financial, or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information.

5 tips to survive a real Estate bidding war. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2021, from

Diana Olick. (2021, February 13). Bidding wars are off the charts, as home listings fall to a record low. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from

Diane Saatchi. (2018, December 19). How to survive (and even win) a bidding war. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from

Directo-Meston, D. (2017, July 13). Buying a house in la: How we survived the bidding wars. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from

McDermott, M. (2020, November 29). Bidding wars and beyond: Tips for buying a home during the pandemic. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from

They say love is blind. These days, apparently so is house buying.

To say that the way we shop has changed significantly in the last 20 years is a considerable understatement. Before the internet, eBay and Amazon took over, consumers would never dream of buying clothes, vehicles, furniture, homes, or just about anything else without first seeing it, trying it on, or taking it for a test drive.

But, times have changed in a big way – even when shopping for a house. According to a Redfin-commissioned survey, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of people who bought a home in 2020 made an offer on a property that they hadn’t seen in person – the highest share since at least 2015. Continue reading

Staging, the process of preparing a home to be sold, is a pretty straightforward concept for most of your clients to understand. The goal is to make the home, both inside and out, look as attractive as possible to potential buyers. The focus is mainly to make the house look bigger, brighter, and as updated as possible.

Why is staging so important? According to statistics provided by both The Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of REALTORS® and the 2020 Home Staging Industry Report (IAHSP), staged houses can sell for up to 20 percent more than the non‐staged competition. Simply taking the time to make a house look its best means it will sell faster and for a higher price.

But, here’s the thing: Staging isn’t always cheap. Whether it’s new paint, furniture, kitchen decor, landscaping, or other improvements, it’s going to cost money. But whose money? Continue reading

Build vs. buy? It’s a dilemma prospective homeowners wrestle with once they’ve gotten used to the idea that the next place they’ll call home is a house (not an apartment or condo).

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, U.S. homebuilders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.67 million in December 2020. That’s a 5.8 percent increase from November. Compared with December 2019, housing starts were up 5 percent, while permits were up 17 percent. That’s the highest level housing starts and building permits have reached since 2006. Continue reading

It’s no secret that rates have been historically low recently. In 2020, rates broke more than a dozen record lows –in large part due to the pandemic. Those who weren’t afraid to relocate during such an uncertain time got some great deals. Deals they never would have gotten even five years ago. As far as interest rates were concerned, it’s been a game of limbo – how low can you go?

Inevitably, though, rates will start to level out ever so slightly and slowly – and home buyers and owners alike have taken notice and have shifted to act more quickly. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index, mortgage applications to refinance a home loan recently spiked 20 percent compared to the previous week. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 2.88% from 2.86% the previous week for loans with a 20% down payment. (Diana Olick, 2021) Continue reading

For most of your clients, there are five major areas of spending that will consume more than 50 percent of the money they earn in their lifetime:

  • Home
  • Car
  • Children
  • Education
  • Retirement

Let’s put that in perspective. If your client earns an average of $50,000 per year and works 43 years as an adult (from age 22 to 65), they’d make roughly $2.15 million in their lifetime. About half of that ($1 million) will be spent across these five categories. Continue reading