Dorrinda O’Keefe-Shea - CENTURY 21 Toomey-Lovett, Inc Centurian 2012 Top Producer Diamond Award


Ultimately, there is no surefire amount that you should spend on a house. The real estate market varies in cities and towns nationwide, and as such, the prices of houses fall across a broad range. Also, the condition and age of a house – as well as a homebuyer's budget – may dictate how much an individual is willing to spend on a particular residence.

As you search for your dream house, it helps to plan ahead as much as you can. Because if you have a homebuying strategy in place, you can determine exactly how much you can spend to acquire your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get your finances in order before you kick off a house search.

1. Check Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, your credit score may have far-flung effects on your homebuying budget. And if you fail to review your credit score before you embark on a house search, you may miss out on an opportunity to purchase your dream house.

A low credit score may make it tough to get the mortgage you need to acquire your ideal residence. Thus, you may want to check your credit score and find ways to improve it before you begin a house search.

You won't have to break your budget to get a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). In fact, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the aforementioned credit bureaus. Request a copy of your credit report, and you can learn your credit score.

Of course, if your credit score is low, you can always improve it by paying off outstanding debt. Or, if you find errors on your credit report, contact the credit bureau that provided the report so that you can get these issues corrected.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage makes it easy to enter the housing market with a budget at your disposal. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage sooner rather than later.

Remember, banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists. Don't hesitate to ask these specialists about assorted mortgage options, and you can select a mortgage that perfectly matches your finances.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can make it simple to pursue your dream house. This housing market professional will help you narrow the price range for your dream house and ensure you can discover the perfect house without delay. Perhaps most important, a real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, ensuring you can get the best price on any home.

Ready to start a home search? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can simultaneously look for your dream house and avoid the risk of paying too much to purchase your dream residence.


If you intend to purchase a house, it helps to submit a competitive offer. In fact, if you submit a competitive offer, you may be better equipped than ever before to enjoy a fast, seamless homebuying experience.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to submit a competitive offer on a home, and these include:

1. You can increase the likelihood of an instant "Yes" from a home seller.

Let's face it – no home seller wants to deal with a "lowball" offer on a house. Fortunately, a competitive offer helps improve your chances of receiving an instant "Yes" from a seller, thereby increasing the likelihood of a stress-free homebuying experience.

A homebuyer who allocates the necessary time and resources to understand a house and its strengths and weaknesses should have no trouble defining a competitive offer. Then, this buyer can submit a proposal that accounts for a house's age and condition. And if a seller accepts the homebuying proposal, both the buyer and seller can work together to finalize a purchase agreement.

2. You can open the lines of communication with a home seller.

Although a competitive home offer may suit your interests, it may not match a seller's expectations. However, a buyer's decision to submit a competitive proposal may open the lines of communication with a seller.

If a buyer submits a lowball proposal on a house, he or she may receive an immediate rejection from a seller. Comparatively, a competitive home offer may force a seller to consider his or her options closely. And even though a seller may not be fully satisfied with the proposal, he or she could counter the offer and negotiate terms with a buyer.

3. You can avoid the risk of overspending to acquire a residence.

A homebuyer who analyzes the real estate market can find out what a home is worth based on a variety of housing sector conditions. Therefore, this buyer can submit a competitive offer, one that minimizes the risk that he or she will overspend to acquire a residence.

When it comes to putting together a competitive home offer, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional can work with you throughout your home search and ensure you can pounce at any opportunity to purchase your ideal house.

A real estate agent understands all aspects of the housing market. He or she will help you search for residences in your preferred cities and towns. Plus, once you discover your dream house, a real estate agent will make it simple to put together a competitive offer.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is happy to respond to your concerns and questions throughout the homebuying journey. This housing market professional will offer expert homebuying insights, enabling you to make the best-possible homebuying decision.

Limit the guesswork associated with submitting a competitive homebuying proposal – use the aforementioned tips, and you can make an aggressive offer on any house, at any time.


For those who want to acquire a house, it helps to get your finances in order. That way, you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the homebuying journey without having to worry about how you'll afford your dream house.

There are many quick, easy ways to straighten out your finances before you embark on the homebuying journey, such as:

1. Assess Your Credit Score

Your credit score ultimately can play a major role in your ability to secure a great mortgage. If you understand your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve it prior to conducting a home search.

It is important to remember that you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a free copy of your credit report today, and you can take the first step to evaluate your credit score.

If you find that your credit score is low, there is no need to worry. You can always pay off outstanding debt to improve your credit score over time.

Also, if you identify any errors on your credit report, you'll want to address these mistakes immediately. In this scenario, you should contact the agency that provided the report to ensure any necessary corrections can be made.

2. Look Closely at Your Monthly Expenses

When it comes to buying a house, it generally helps to have sufficient funds for a down payment. The down payment on a house may fall between 5 and 20 percent of a home's sale price, so you'll want to have enough money available to cover this total for your dream residence.

If you evaluate your monthly expenses, you may be able to find ways to save money for a down payment on a house.

For example, it may be beneficial to cut out cable TV for the time being and use the money that you save toward a home down payment. Or, if your dine out frequently, cooking at home may prove to be a substantial money-saver that could help you speed up the process of saving for a down payment.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

With pre-approval for a mortgage, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand. Then, you'll be better equipped than ever before to narrow your search to houses that fall within your price range.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about different mortgage options and help you assess all of the options at your disposal.

Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask banks and credit unions about how different types of mortgages work. This will enable you to gain the insights that you need to make an informed decision about a mortgage based on your financial situation.

If you need extra help as you prepare to pursue a house, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. In fact, a real estate agent can help you find a high-quality house at a budget-friendly price in no time at all.


Buying a vacation home is an important goal and milestone for many Americans who want to make the most of their holidays and plan for retirement.

Vacation properties needn’t be lavish or expensive to still be a perfect way to enjoy the winter months at your home away from home. Furthermore, owning a vacation home can prove to be an excellent financial asset that increases in value over time, as more people seek to scoop up properties in your area.

In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some of the most important things to look for in a vacation home to help you kick off your search. Whether you’re months away from buying a home or the idea of a second home is still a far-off dream, this article is for you.

1. Consider locations

The most important aspect of any vacation home is that it’s located in the perfect place for you to enjoy. Whether that’s a remote getaway in the mountains or a beachfront property in Florida, your plans for the home should be your number one priority.

If it’s your ultimate goal to retire and move into your vacation home someday, consider what it would be like living in that location full time. Is it close to amenities like grocery stores? Or, if you’re moving to a coastal area, will the traffic drive you crazy?

On the other hand, if you don’t intend to ever move into your vacation home full-time, it might be wiser to choose a location that will suit your family’s vacation needs while remaining a great asset to sell down the road.

2. Spend a week at your destination before buying

Some homeowners have a dream of buying a vacation home in a place they’ve always wanted to visit or have simply heard is a great place to own a vacation home in. The problem with this is that you might find, once you arrive, that you don’t want to spend several weeks or months there after all.

It might get too crowded during vacation season or you might decide that there isn’t enough to do that will keep you busy for extended stays.

To prevent buyer’s remorse, spend a week or two in your planned vacation home destination to make sure it really is the best spot for you.

3. If you plan on renting, know what to expect

Many Americans purchase a vacation home with the intention of renting it out while they aren’t using it to earn extra income. While this can be a great way to generate income, you will need to be prepared for becoming a landlord.

Look up local rental laws in the area to make sure you understand your responsibilities. Furthermore, understand that renting out a property part-time takes work; you’ll interact with prospective renters, filter out those that you think aren’t suited for your home, and handle problems with the property as they arrive.

If you keep these three things in mind, you should be able to find the perfect vacation home for you and your family.


When you’re buying a home, it’s important to offer a good price to be able to land the property of your dreams. You also don’t want to overpay for the house you’re buying. If you want to know for sure that you’re paying a good price for a home, you’re going to need to do some price comparisons. Take a look at recently sold homes in your neighborhood of choice and see what the going rate is. If all of the homes are similar in the area, it will be easy to find out how much the home you’re buying is worth. There are a few ways that you can do comparisons to make it easier for you to determine the right price for the home you want to buy. 


Take A Look At The Neighborhood


There are certain features that attract nearly everyone to certain neighborhoods. From the safety and friendliness of an area to the schools that are nearby, to the stores, and public transportation access, people are attracted to what makes their lives easier and more enjoyable. The bottom line is the more desirable the neighborhood, the higher the price of the homes in it. 



Check Out Public Records


With the Internet, it’s pretty easy to access public records these days. You can take a look at what properties have been bought and sold for in recent times int the area of the homes that you’re looking at. You can even take a peek at some historic information to help you see if the area is up-and-coming.


Is The Neighborhood Going To Become Trendy?


Sometimes, you can find a great property for less in a neighborhood that hasn’t quite reached it’s full potential yet. If there’s a slot of new construction going on, that’s a good sign that the neighborhood is moving on up! Especially attractive features in a neighborhood are new schools, new shopping centers, or new parks.                


There Is A Tipping Point To Growth


If it seems that a neighborhood is growing a bit too much, it may actually decrease the value of your home. Huge commercial developments can actually be detrimental to the value of a property. Where there’s a lot of people, there’s also a lot of noise and traffic. That’s usually not a desirable factor in a neighborhood.    


Meet In The Middle


When you’re looking at the price of properties, the best bet is to meet somewhere in the middle for what is reasonable. While you don’t want to buy the highest priced home in the neighborhood, you probably don’t want to lowest price for that neighborhood either. Working with a more average number is a good option because your home helps any home lower priced than yours, while any higher priced homes help to increase the value of your home. It’s a win-win situation when you choose a property based on price and keep this strategy in mind.    




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