Homes aren’t impulse purchases. It takes time to sift through listings and make your way from one home showing to the next; then, of course, there are those agonizing hours you wait to find out if your offer on a house was accepted, whether you can secure financing, and any number of other holdups.

Just so you’re prepared to play the waiting game, here are the steps to buy a house and how long they typically take, so you aren’t sitting there holding your breath and wondering if something’s up.

How long does it take to find a real estate agent?

Answer: A couple of days to a few weeks

Your real estate agent should be your most trusted consultant during the home-buying process. Don’t skimp on the search—even if you’re in a rush.

“The…

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People vow to do all kinds of things—hit the gym, get more sleep, quit Froot Loops—and if you plan to sell your home this year, making a few promises matter here most of all. After all, selling your home for top dollar takes work and the right mindset to strike a deal.

To help make that happen, we put together a list of good habits all home sellers should start now so that you’re fully prepared once opportunity knocks.

Vow No. 1: Get realistic about how much your home is worth

It’s natural to think your home is priceless, or hope it’s worth at least more than when you bought it. As such, many sellers make the epic mistake of placing a pie-in-the-sky price on their home with the hopes that some buyer somewhere will bite. But the reality…

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Let’s finish out the year with a holiday basket packed with good news: We’re ending 2016 in better economic shape than in recent years. Unemployment is down to 4.6%, its lowest level since August 2007; consumer confidence is higher than it has been since July 2007; and home values nationally and in more than half of the major markets in the country have recovered.

We’re employed, confident, and have recovered equity in our homes. The stock market is up and flirting with all-time highs.

That sounds like the perfect backdrop to buy a home in 2017, whether it’s a first-time purchase, a move up, a downsize, or a relocation. Right?

Maybe. But before you take the plunge, you’re going to have to come to grips with two factors that are now decidedly…

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We hate to be scolds, but it’s time to break those deplorable habits that are hurting your home. No, a home does not actually feel pain, and, much like the American electorate, it can endure a remarkable amount of abuse. But the damage it sustains—scratches on the hardwood floors, a neglected leaky spot on the ceiling—will one day come back and take a bite out of your finances in the guise of costly repairs.

“It’s tempting for homeowners to get caught up in dreaming about the cool stuff they plan to do—the kitchen makeover with the big, six-burner commercial-grade stove, or the dinner parties on the yet-to-be-built backyard deck,” says remodeling expert John Riha. “But good homeownership is in the details, like doing regular maintenance and smaller…

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Most people know that home-ownership requires coughing up copious amounts of money. There’s your mortgage, of course, but the costs hardly end there. You will also have to pay property tax. But how much? That depends not only on your home, but also where you live.

Here’s how to calculate property tax so you don’t end up blindsided by this hefty homeowner expense.

What is a home’s assessed value?

One factor that affects your property taxes is how much your home is worth. You probably have a good understanding of your home’s market value—the amount of money a buyer would (hopefully) pay for your place. (You could also enter your address in a home value estimator to get a ballpark figure.) Still, tax municipalities use a slightly different…

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One of the most rewarding things about being a homeowner is that you can make changes to your home that will make it a more enjoyable place to live. However, you probably won't be living in your home forever, so it is also worth considering how your home improvement projects will affect your home's value.
The ROI, or return on investment of a project tells you how much of the project cost returns to you in the form of a higher home value. The ROI is typically given as a percentage, based on research on home characteristics and sale prices. In most cases, the ROI is less than 100%, which means you spend more on the project than you recoup in the sale price. Therefore, most projects are best done if you still plan to live in the home several more…

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Think About Your 5 Year Plan

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.”

No matter what demographic homebuyers belong to, there are key features to consider not only for the short-term, but also for several years down the road.

Here’s a look at 10 things homebuyers should take into account along their homeshopping journey.

1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of what seems to be the perfect house for homebuyers today, but what about plans to have three kids, travel abroad next year or retire in two years? Having a…

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Homeshoppers should buy with their heads, not their hearts

Becoming a first-time homebuyer is an exciting and often complex process. Summer is the busiest season for home sales, and new shoppers can easily get caught up in the thrilling pursuit of their dream home, which often leads to overlooking potential problems along the way.

In a race to get to the finish line, inexperienced buyers can become distracted by some of the flashier amenities available on the market today.

Cosmetic upgrades such as granite counter tops, outdoor pools, raised vegetable gardens and spa bathtubs can camouflage some serious red flags and easily lead a new homebuyer to overspend or overlook structural issues.

The key to being a savvy first-time homeshopper is…

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Second-homeowners have options 

Here are four ways to solve second-home maintenance woes:

1. The property management company

Hiring a management company to look after a second home is one option. They can open and close the house, handle rentals (if applicable) and respond to emergencies. In most cases, the company can also arrange for cleaning and hire local maintenance workers to handle repairs so the home is in tip-top shape for the owners’ arrival.

This is a popular choice for owners who live far away and want to rent out their property when not in use. Management companies generally charge a percentage of the rental price, and this can range from 20 percent to 60 percent.

If you’ve stayed in a vacation rental yourself, you know…

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7 Home Fixes You Must Complete Before Selling

Prioritize the projects that will bring the most value

 

The process of getting a property ready to put on the market can seem daunting enough. There’s clearing the clutter, endless amounts of cleaning, organizing and scrutinizing your property with a fine-tooth comb. What needs attention and what can you leave alone?

Welcome to the new world of “fixing to sell.” Gone are the days of throwing it on the market and seeing what happens. Prepping for sale is a highly choreographed dance of repair along with a bit of renovation and presentation.

Don’t ignore these seven areas.

1. Structural and mechanical

It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking at big-ticket items like the age…

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