10 Easy Ways To Relieve Home Buyers’ (Or Sellers’) Stress

(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)

Homebuyer's Stress Pin


Okay, it’s all paid for. Now what?


I’m not kidding when I say this. You need some R&R (rest and relaxation). Seriously! It’s important to give yourself a break in between stressful situations. Here are some of our best suggestions:

  • Get some exercise. No, we don’t mean lifting boxes. Not only does exercise relieve stress, but it actually prevents future stress, too!
  • Meditate. No, you don’t have to levitate- or even get into some yogi position. Just take a few deep breaths and take some time to center yourself. What emotions are you feeling right now? Why? Can you do anything to alleviate them? Being more in tune with yourself makes you better able to tackle any situation.
  • Eat a healthy meal. Sure, comfort foods helps too (when does food not help, really) but grabbing some carrots and ranch and snacking in a healthy way gives you all that energy back.
  • You don’t have to tell me twice.
  • Take a vacation. Sure, it’s an excuse to escape, but it’s also good for your health. People who regularly take vacations have better health- so there’s another reason to book that all-inclusive vacation to Mexico. If you can’t afford it, then a pool or beach day is the next best thing (just add sunscreen and margaritas).
  • Get an attitude of gratitude. Yeah, I know I sound like your mom- but it’s true. People who practice gratitude daily have much lower levels of stress. Start a journal, writing 5 things every day that you are thankful for!
  • Schedule your off time. For those of us who are busy or forget, phone calendars exist. I’m so prone to forgetting that I actually schedule a break in my day to relax. “But I don’t have time!” Well, that’s the point. Make it.
  • Even a fake one- it helps.
  • Tomorrow starts today. Take ten minutes before bed to pick out your outfit and set aside things you need to bring with you- and get enough sleep!
  • Go outside. Not only because of the sun’s vitamin d, but also because the smells and sounds of nature are naturally calming to humans- makes sense, no?

The Ultimate Showdown: Moving Company v. DIY Moving

(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)


It’s a whole new beginning: a new home, new neighborhood, new walls to cover, and new memories to be made. Go ahead, get excited (a.k.a. happy dance in your new kitchen). Chances are, you’ve already done this whole moving thing before: whether it was with your family as a kid or to your dorm as a college student. However, moving a whole house is different. It’s your first home- so you have this debate going:


to hire a moving company or to DIY it?



The Most Important Things To Leave Unpacked During A Move

(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)


So it’s all packed up! Except…oops. The scissors are packed up, too. You might need those to open the boxes- you can only use a house key so long, after all. There’s a lot of things you would never think about, that can make or break the moving-in process.


Here’s our list of the most important things to leave unpacked (these are those suckers you want in a reusable bag in your front seat).


How & Why To Get Pre-Approved For A Mortgage

(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)

How & Why To Get Pre-Approved

Let’s start from the very beginning- since we can pretend to know it all as much as we want, but understanding all this jargon is really important. This isn’t microeconomics- let’s just be real and simple here.

What is a mortgage?


A mortgage is a big, fat loan.


But, where a loan might let you borrow up to $10,000, a mortgage lets you borrow a lot. How much? That depends on what you’ve got. Most lenders recommend a mortgage to cover 80% or less of the cost of the house (leaving you with 20% or more financial responsibility). So basically, if you’re buying a $100,000 house, you should get a mortgage for $80,000 or less. Meaning, you pay $20,000 (or more) as your contribution.

We call that the down payment. The greater down payment you can make, the more money the lender will be willing to give you. This means you can either get a more expensive house, or pay off more of a less expensive house. So with $30,000 you could consider…


basic house



Your house then acts as collateral for that amount- meaning, if you can’t make the mortgage payments, they take your house. It’s like how cars get repossessed- except it’s called a foreclosure and it’s even lamer. So, making that monthly payment is a big deal.



A mortgage’s monthly payment is based on four things:

  1. Principal
    1. The total amount of money you borrowed from the lender. So, if you have a $200,000 mortgage loan, the beginning principal balance is $200,000.
  2. Interest
    1. This is the money that you pay to the lender on top of what you borrowed (the fee they charge you for borrowing the money).
  3. Taxes
    1. Good ol’ Uncle Sam wants a cut too- every month property taxes are owed, and vary depending on the value of the property.
  4. Insurance
    1. A lot of times, you are required to get homeowners insurance by your lender to cover your house and possibly the property inside. Typically for conventional loans, if your down payment is less than 20%, you will have to pay mortgage insurance which protects the lender if you default (foreclose) on your mortgage loan.


Fantastic. Excited yet?


It may seem like a lot- and it is. You don’t want to sign on for a mortgage that’s going to end in foreclosure. But, with the help of professionals, it’s much less daunting. That’s where pre-approval comes in! How can you start looking at homes without knowing how much you can afford? (Hint: you can’t). So…what is pre-approval?


Pre-approval is the process in which a lender gives you a written statement of their very first determination of how much money you would qualify for (under that lender’s guidelines).


This determination/mortgage amount are determined by your income and credit information (I hope you paid attention on day 1!). Most preapproval letters stand for 60-90 days, giving you the ability to securely say “I can afford this much”. Then, you can look at houses within that price range without worrying about whether or not you can afford them, because you already know!


Ahhhhhh…. (deep breaths, people)



Are You Psychologically Ready To Buy A House?

(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)


A lot of young home buyers overlook this question- but it’s a big one. Are you psychologically ready to own a home? A few questions can help you find out:

  • Are you ready to settle down and commit to spending the next decade of your life in this home? What are your plans and goals for the next decade? Are you torn a bunch of different ways?
  • Can you fix a leak? Do you know how to, or do you even know who to call? Because if you’re not handy, you need to be able to find the right pros to fix issues within the house. Even if the house is brand new, you’ll run into issues everywhere that you never noticed before.Are You Psychologically Ready
  • Are you only buying a house as an “investment”? On average, homes only increase about 3% in value before being sold- which means your decision needs to be one based on non-monetary goals.
  • Are you able to easily afford it? This goes right along with everything covered in Part I- and it’s the most important psychological factor. You don’t want to sign up for a panic attack every month when you have to pay bills. It should be well within your means (again, ideally not exceeding 30% of your income). It’s a lot easier to upgrade than it is to downgrade.
  • Do you have enough of a financial cushion to not sweat it if you’re out of work for a few months? Again, taking care of routine maintenance is the only stress you want associated with your house.
  • Are you planning other big things in the near future? Chances are, if you’re planning a wedding, it’s probably not the best time to also buy a house- otherwise, that honeymoon phase will end real quick after you both realize the huge burdens you have on your shoulders. (Want to know the quickest way to a divorce?)
  • Did you look at the sticker price as the amount the house would cost? (Don’t be a financial amateur).
  • Are you responsible enough? Owning a home is a huge responsibility. There’s no landlord who can come fix your dishwasher or replace the light bulb in the 20-foot ceiling. You’re on your own, with the entire financial value of that house resting on your shoulders. Again, no pressure.

So… are you ready?

It’s a question that ultimately only you can answer. And if the answer is  “no”, that’s okay- you now know what you need to do to be ready to make the answer “yes” very soon. You can always reach out to your NextHome Element Realty Agent for help all along the way.

How To Drastically Increase Your Home’s Value (For Under $1,000!)

Click the image below to open our free, comprehensive guide to drastically increasing your home’s value (for under $1,000)! Whether you’ve just decided to put your house on the market or want to give your space a makeover that will also boost your value, the team here at NextHome Element Realty has compiled our favorite, most effective tips for increasing your home’s value- and you can do it all without breaking the bank! Take one or multiple ideas, get your DIY side ready, and let’s go!

Feel free to download the guide and share it with family and friends. Then, leave us a comment to let us know which project you tried and how it worked- and follow us on Pinterest!



Free Downloadable Guide Pin


Are You Financially Ready To Buy A House?

(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)

Sure, you might have enough money for a down payment, but that’s not enough. Hopefully by now, you’ve had a few years to establish your credit through credit cards, loans, etc. Since this is the most important factor in determining how much money you can put toward a house, it’s good to start a few years in advance. That might be disappointing to some people who thought they were more ready, but it’s a responsible decision to make- waiting until you’ve built up better credit before buying a house. There are a few ways you can start establishing credit if you haven’t already:

1. Become an authorized user on someone else’s card. When I turned 16, my parents gave me a credit card of my very own, under their account. I was only allowed to use it for gas- but to this day my credit is reaping the benefits (because they always made payments on time).

2. Get a credit card. There are secured options for those of us who are very careful, and then there are unsecured options (with a co-signer) for those of us who just want to go all in immediately (having done it that way, I’m not sure I’d make the same choice again).

3. Sign up for a rent-reporting service, that attributes your rent toward your credit score- which is like a credit card without all the risk and interest, as long as you pay your rent on time.

4. Apply for a credit-builder loan (which is exactly what it sounds like).



Already have credit, but it needs a little work? There are some simple ways to get that number up.

1. Make all of your payments on time. We’re talking 100%. Make your bills the first thing you pay every month- don’t wait until two days before. I have my credit card payment dates scheduled in my phone’s calendar- and I set my phone to remind me a few weeks before, and then 1 week before it is due. Most of the time, I get to shrug those reminders off, because I’ve already done it. But other times, those things saved my life (well, credit, same thing almost).

2. Keep your credit utilization low. The agencies like to see that you have the possibility to get yourself into a lot of debt. They also want to see that you DIDN’T DO IT. Key words- DID NOT. Most recommend using a maximum of 30% of your credit line if you do not pay the card off every month.

3. Don’t close those old accounts. The longer you’ve had accounts open, the better it looks. Tip: If one of your accounts has fees (like those lovely annual fees), that’s an okay one to think about closing. Consult your personal banker or mortgage specialist to figure out exactly what would be best for your credit.

4. Check your credit reports. There are three agencies that give you scores: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You get one free copy of each report once a year- if you request it more than once, it can ding your credit- so don’t do that. You have the option to get all 3 at once (which is simpler) or to space them out over 4-month intervals (which is smarter). You can do all of it on https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ – that’s the only source authorized by Federal law to give you free credit reports. Be wary of letting anyone else get into a number that is so crucial. When you’re a young adult, tracking your credit should be an obsession. If you don’t already, print out a line graph and start tracking the movements of your credit every time you hear about it.circle crdit

Alright, so your credit is good (ideally a 750 or higher. 620 is usually the minimum required to get a mortgage). Awesome! Now, do you have enough money saved up in your emergency fund? Financial advisors recommend having emergency money saved, so that if- for any reason, heaven forbid- you get this house and then lose your job, you have a cushion. It should be enough to cover what it costs you to live and pay bills for 3 months. On top of your emergency money, do you have enough money set aside to make a good down payment without digging into your savings?


What about covering those little hidden expenses?

There are a lot of expenses people don’t think about when they plan on buying a house. As the buyer, just to get the house you must pay:

· Down Payment (ideally 20%)stones

· Half of the title and escrow fees

· Lender fees (for obtaining that mortgage)

· Homeowner’s insurance (they usually require a minimum of one year up front)

· Fee to obtain your credit report (your free ones can’t apply)

· Inspection and appraisal fees

· Moving costs

On average, closing costs run 2-5% of the purchase price of the home, so you have to be prepared. Then, you have to consider the monthly costs of owning a home- which include:

· Interest for your mortgagechart

· Property taxes

· Standard maintenance

· Property insurance

· Landscaping/Lawn Maintenance

· Gas

· Electric

· Pool (if applicable)

· Water

· HOA fees

· Housecleaning

· Home Security

As a first time buyer you have to ask yourself: can I afford to spend that much money each month, ideally, without exceeding 30% of my income? Am I in a stable enough place in my career where I can be certain I will have job security for years to come? This is an investment you’ll have for a long time- the National Association of Home Builders found that people stay in the same home for an average of 13 years. Can you be relatively positive that you’ll be able to take care of those monthly costs even then?


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