STEPHANIE RIO MACFARLAND | Reading Real Estate, North Reading Real Estate, Wakefield Real Estate


If you know you’d like to buy a home in the future, you’ve probably thought about saving money for all of the upfront costs that buying a home can bring. Saving the sizable amount of money that it takes for a down payment can be seemingly impossible to do. It’s impossible without making yourself seem miserable for a time, at least. You can save money creatively without sacrificing everything. Below, you’ll find some tips for saving money that work for your life. 


Put Your Money Somewhere Safe


While investing in the stock market may seem like a good idea to put your savings on hyperdrive, it’s risky. When it comes to your savings, try high interest savings accounts and CDs. The latter is a particularly good option because you won’t be able to touch the money for the time period that the CD will mature. You’ll also earn a bit of interest on the funds that are in there. 


If you plan to keep adding to your savings (which you should) a traditional savings account is best. You should have a dedicated account that’s solely for the house fund. Do some shopping around for the savings account that will have the best interest rate and be the easiest option for you. Remember that as boring as a savings account seems, it’s a safe bet for your money. 


Apps Can Assist You


There are plenty of budgeting apps and apps that help you to set aside spare change. You should make use of these tools to help you reach your savings goals. Whether you need some help with budgeting or need to find ways to put your spare change to good use, there’s an app for that. You can even find apps that will reward you for good behavior. These apps may “tip” you a few bucks for going to the gym or completing a project on time. You’re saving money and doing good for yourself at the same time! Saving money for your future home can be fun if you find the right tools to help you.



Set Goals


One reason that many people don’t save a lot of money is that they lack specific goals. If you sit down and look at your budget, you’ll see where you can cut expenses. Then, you’ll be able to have clear cut goals of how much you can save on a weekly or monthly basis. With your eyes on the prize of homeownership, you should be motivated to save where you can. Having specific numbers in mind can be a big help in reaching your long-term goals.


Photo by TeroVesalainen via Pixabay

Flipping a house successfully means keeping your ducks in a row during the rehab process--and that typically means communicating with several vendors to coordinate work, making sure everyone is on the same page, and dealing with delays when they (inevitably) occur. It's worth your while to build a project management strategy and skill set into your workflow, particularly if you aren't accustomed to managing multiple teams on a project. 

1. Always Know What's Happening 

When you get started on a project, you'll need a list of vendors (electricians, plumbers, landscapers, etc.) and a scope of work for each of them. In some cases, a general contractor will manage all of these for you; in others, you'll end up coordinating the different facets of the job yourself. Regardless of who's doing what, you need to know what your people are working on. Don't micromanage the people you've hired, do check in with your contractor often.

The best suggestion is requiring a report of who's on the job (general contractor, subs, other vendors) and what's getting accomplished each week. This keeps your contractor more accountable and keeps you informed of issues as they pop up. 

2. Use a Project Management System 

House flippers use a huge variety of different online tools and apps to keep them on track, and the one that works best for you will be the one you find easiest to use. Many have had great success with Podio, Basecamp, and Asana as well. Learning one of these systems (or establishing your own) and using it to keep you and your team on track will make a huge difference in keeping your project running smoothly. 

3. Set Expectations Before You Begin 

It sounds simple, but this is a big one. Before your contractors get started, talk them through your goals--in terms of timelines, budgets, and unforeseen issues that arise during the flipping process. Here are a few issues to address with your contractor before work even begins: 

  • What grade of materials and finishes do you expect to be used? 
  • What happens when it becomes clear something is going to cost more than expected? 
  • What subcontractors will your general contractor be hiring out? For what projects? 
  • Do you expect a weekly report of what's going to be accomplished that week? Will you be on-site each day for a walk-through? How will you stay on top of the project and answer any questions that come up? 

Many excellent books have been written on managing a house flip, so don't take this to be an exhaustive list by any means. But it's a solid skeleton of a jumping-off point as you plan out the most efficient ways to manage your projects. 


Photo by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay

If you're like many Americans, your home is your biggest asset. And if you're thinking of selling your home to use the profits for a new home, sending the kids off to college or simply adding it to a retirement fund, there are a few things you may want to avoid to make sure your home sells. 

 Setting the Price too High

Some sellers make the mistake of thinking their home is worth more than comparable properties. A lot of times, living in the home and becoming attached to it may cause an overestimation of the value of upgrades or dismissal of the lower price tag of similar homes with similar features.

When you price a house too high, though, the property may stay longer on the market and go through several price reductions before it finally attracts interested buyers. And if you happen to be in a new home already, you might be paying two mortgage payments while waiting for a buyer to place an offer. Putting the right price on your home helps ensure buyer interest and a quick sale.

Neglecting to Order a Pre-inspection

Some buyers are open to fixing problems, but your cost during the negotiation phase may be significantly higher than it would have been if you hired a contractor to fix any preexisting issues.

A way to solve this problem is to order your own inspection before you put your house on the market. This is also a great way to establish buyer trust, showing that you are transparent about the house's issues when you give them the report or show the report of the issues being fixed.

Going Overboard on Presale Renovations

You love your home, and you want to prove to the buyer that it is a gem. But sinking too much money into presale renovations can mean spending money that you may not get back during the negotiations. You also want to be careful that you're not spending your renovation budget on cosmetic enhancement when the house needs structural improvements. That is another excellent reason to invest in a home inspection prior to putting your house on the market. 

Failing to Choose the Right Agent

The real estate agent you choose to sell your home makes all the difference -- and with buyers' agents requesting up to 6 percent in closing fees, it's important to make sure you find someone who will work hard for you.

What should you look for? Good chemistry tops the chart, since you need to be able to trust your agent to act in your best interest. Other important factors are familiarity with the local market, experience selling houses in your price range, access to good marketing databases, and evidence of a strong network.

Ready to get started with the home selling process? Contact me, and we'll get the ball rolling!


Photo by Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay

You’ve decided to sell your home to upgrade or even downsize, but you don’t know whether you should start looking and buy first or wait to sell first. The best-case scenario is to do both, but that takes a lot of planning. If you are sure your credit is good enough to get the loan you want, you can find a home and you have a buyer for your home all at the same time, the process could be quite smooth. Working with an excellent real estate agent goes a long way to making this scenario go smoothly.

Buying First

If you decide to buy a new house before you sell, and then put your home on the market, or choose to put your home on the market and buy a new home, even if your home doesn’t sell quickly, you will most likely have a place to move to—and can take your time moving. This plan has two hitches, and they’re not necessarily bad:

  • Your house sells quicker than you expected. If it does and you haven’t found a home, or you did, but you haven’t closed yet, you may have to move to temporary housing until your deal closes. On the other hand, if the seller is not in any hurry, you could rent your home back until your deal closes and you get moved.

  • You will have to pay two mortgages. If your current home is not paid off, you will have to pay two mortgages. Depending on your income, you may not be able to close the loan on the new home until you sell your current home. If your debt-to-income ratio has room for two mortgages, this is not a problem.

Selling First

Selling first is probably the safest way to go about moving. Once your house sells, put most of your possessions into storage and find a short-term rental. This allows you to take your time finding your dream home and getting the financing for the new house. Since you have all the time in the world, you’ll be able to shop around for the best mortgage without feeling pressured to take something because you need to close quickly.

Making the Decision

Before you decide on whether to buy or sell first or do both at the same time, determine which is best for your situation.

  • Check your credit score. The better your credit, the lower your new interest rate will be. Lenders will be more willing to work with you.

  • Start browsing for homes for sale to see if there is anything you are interested in.

  • Know how much mortgage you will qualify for. Speak to several lenders about the different available loan programs.

  • Contact a real estate agent to discuss listing your home. Ask about the listing contract and the cost of listing. Some real estate agents give you a discount on their commission if you use them to buy and sell.

  • Know the market. If buyers are flooding the market, it may be easier to sell your home. If sellers are flooding the market, it may take longer to sell your home because there are many homes for people to choose from.

The answers to these questions will let you know if it is better to buy or sell first.


When prospective buyers stop by to see your house, they're going to be barraged by a variety of sights, sounds, and smells. Some of these sensations will immediately capture their attention, while others may register on a subconscious level.

The encouraging thing to keep in mind is that you can control many aspects of how visitors experience your home.

Here are a few quick tips for making your home as appealing as possible:

Flower arrangements can add a touch of freshness and eye appeal to both the interior and exterior of your home and property. They can also infuse the air with an appealing fragrance, which can make a positive impression on potential buyers. One cautionary note is that wilted or tired-looking floral displays are not going to have the same positive impact as fresh, vibrant ones. Also keep in mind that some flowers smell more appealing than others. Most people generally prefer subtle fragrances, rather than overpowering smells! If the season and your climate permit it, placing hanging baskets of colorful flowers on your front porch and other locations can add immensely to the visual appeal of your property.

Make sure all surfaces are sparklingly clean! Imagine a prospect reaching for a house flyer or information sheet about your home, and finding that the paper was stuck to the kitchen counter! You also don't want them feeling a sticky or wet sensation when they touch or lean their elbow on a counter, tabletop, or refrigerator handle! The same rule-of-thumb can be applied to floor surfaces. If there are sticky spots, stains, or visible spills on the floor, you can be sure that's going to negatively impact a prospect's opinion of your home. It's not easy to keep your home spotless when it's on the market (or at any other time), but if you prioritize areas like floor, countertops, and sinks, then you'll be much less likely to overlook common problem areas. Eliminating pet odors, laundry smells, mold, and mildew will also make your home a much more inviting and appealing place for house hunters, real estate agents, and other visitors.

Reduce household noises whenever possible. Noises, such as squeaky hinges, loud HVAC systems, or rumbling garage doors can imply several things to prospective home buyers -- all of which are undesirable! Low-cost, DIY solutions to these problems are often available, although in some cases, it might be necessary to call a repairman or service person to check out your operating systems and make needed adjustments.

There are a lot of things to be aware of when you sell your house, but if you approach different tasks in a systematic, methodical way, you'll be much more likely to remember the important stuff and avoid sticky situations that could undermine your chances for getting your house sold quickly!




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