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Yasmine Holbrook
Sep 14, 2022
In The Scoop
Questions to Answer Before You Step Foot in an Open House In our 8-part series, How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget, you’ll learn how to find a home that is the right fit for your lifestyle, needs and, most importantly, your budget. We take you through every single step and show you how to avoid buyer’s remorse. Your first home is most likely the stepping stone for your next home so you want to do it right and set yourself up financially to move up to your next home. We all do it. We finally feel ready to buy a home, the time is right, we feel like we have saved enough for a down payment, AND we then assume the next logical step is to get online and find some open houses to go to. Resist that urge. Yep, we tell our clients to NOT start looking around at homes immediately! Why? Because we want clients like you to look “under your hood” so-to-speak and ask yourself some very important questions first. We want you first to define and picture the life you want to live and a home that will match it. This “self-analysis” will dig deeper than “how much square footage would you like?” Your honest and revealing answers will lead you to the right home purchase -- for you, for your lifestyle, and for your budget. Your answers to the questions below will help you avoid a personal and financial disaster when it comes to real estate. You don’t want to rush in blindly when buying a home. That’s why if you slow down and take the time to think and really evaluate your life and the “what” and “why” for a home, the rest of your home-buying experience (especially the house-hunting part) will be that much more rewarding and stress-free. You’ll actually get everything you want … and maybe even things you didn’t think you could have (or didn’t think about before)! Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Step Foot in an Open House: 1.) How long do you plan to live in this next home (and also how long will you own this home if you plan on renting it out after you move out)? This is THE absolute most important question to answer honestly since it will affect the rest of your home-buying search. You must answer this question first before you continue to the others. 2.) What will your life look like during that timeframe? Answering this question will help you determine what purpose your home will serve, most specifically your wants and needs at that stage of your life. Plus, you’ll determine what your #1 driver (or reason) for buying a home now and for the time period you want to own that home. 3.) What about your current daily life do you love and are not willing to give up? For example, do you love being able to walk to work? Do you love going to your local coffee house every day and enjoy local conveniences? Do you like to go for runs outside or hit the gym instead? What is your actual reality day-to-day that you don’t want to sacrifice if you can? 4.) Are you more of a “homebody” or more of a “night-out-on-the-town” kind of person? Knowing the answer to this question will help you determine how much space you need. If you never have people over, then why have a huge space for that dining table you never use? But, if you rather cook dinner for friends than bar hop, then don’t give up your dream of having enough room to make this desire a reality. 5.) Do you work late and need to be close to the office with a quick, easy commute? This question will help you determine location as well as things like whether you need a dedicated parking spot. Or, maybe you love biking to work every morning, but don’t want to have your bike in your living room anymore. Then looking for bike storage in a building that’s easy to get in and out of every day, twice a day will be important to you. 6.) What are your personal and financial goals during the timeframe you are going to be living in this new home? For example, do you plan to change jobs at some point so that your finances may change – a possible increase or decrease in salary? You don’t want to have a mortgage that binds you to your current job, especially if your goal is to switch to a less stressful work life while living there. 7.) What are your hobbies and how will they impact your life while you live in this home? Confused? For example, would you prefer to live in a less expensive, possibly smaller home so you have the funds to travel the world or even for a favorite hobby … (think scuba diving, travel photography, etc.)? Or, do you want to live close to an important outside interest (think horseback riding, sailing, ballroom dancing, etc.)? Or, do you want space for your hobbies (think painting with canvases and easel, crafting supplies, or refurbishing antiquing finds, etc.)? 8.) Do you consider yourself a “location person” or a “house person”? SO important! Some people get more excited about the local amenities than the features inside their home? Usually people tend to be more one than the other. Which are you? What do you tend to gravitate toward? For example, would you rather be near urban conveniences, lots of quiet green space, or a wider number of school choices? Then location could be more important to you. If so, many locations have distinct personalities and you want to find one that works for you. Keep in mind that certain locations will feature only certain types of homes to buy – condo apartment, row house, townhome, or single-family home. On the other hand, if having lots of inside space, an awesome chef’s kitchen, and a Jacuzzi bathtub gets you all excited rather than any particular neighborhood, then you are more of a house person. 9.) Are schools in the neighborhood a factor for this home purchase? Even if you don’t plan to have children soon, it’s a question worth asking since homes in better school districts tend to appreciate more in value. If you have young children or plan to start a family in the near future, then getting yourself educated about schools will be important. Just remember that your agent can’t recommend school districts due to Fair Housing Laws. You’ll need to do your own research and get feedback from friends and family. 10.) What is there about your current home that you would like to change or be different in your next home? What bothers you every single day about your current home? For example, it could be the lack of closet space or not enough counter space in the kitchen. And, on the flip side, what is the absolute most important, can’t-live-without it, deal breaker thing you MUST have? (We all have one.) Do you really, really want that master bedroom suite or that large eat-in kitchen? What about parking space? Or to live near mass transit? 11.) Describe your ideal scenario when it comes to your home purchase and why. This is the time to dream BIG! After asking yourself all the questions above, now’s the time to take your brainstorming to pen and paper. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you could possibly have if you could have it all (within reason) in your next perfect home. Don’t hold back! Write down things you might think are out of reach. 12.) What would you be willing to you compromise on in a home? It’s hard to start with what you are willing to give up, but after listing out all the things you DO want from the questions above (and don’t hold back on this part—list everything!) Circle three things you could possibly live without on that list. Congrats on answering all of these questions and hopefully it sparked some additional self-analysis that will help you find that perfect home! Next week, we’ll take a closer look at whether you are a “location” person or a “house” person. It’s your leading compass on where and what you will look at when you start house hunting.
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Yasmine Holbrook
Sep 14, 2022
In The Scoop
How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget Series Taking that first step to buy your very first home can be scary and daunting. As a first-time buyer, you may think, “Can I really afford a home that I’ll love and that will meet my needs?” It can be done. And we can show you how! In our series, How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget, you’ll learn how to incorporate our strategies with your own to find a home that is the right fit for your lifestyle, needs … and your budget. You’ll know what to do every single step of the way and avoid having that dreaded buyer’s remorse. Keep in mind, that your first home is most likely the stepping stone for your next home. You want to do it right the first time and also set yourself up to be financially able to move up to the second home if and when the time comes. Here’s a weekly run-down of our “perfect home”-buying formula: Week 1 -- 12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Step Foot in an Open House Before you do anything else, you must evaluate your wants and needs for a home. It’s time to brainstorm and figure out what’s “under your hood” when it comes to what is best for you and your family. This will be the very first, but most important, step on your home-buying journey. Your answers will set you on the right path! Week 2— Are You a “House” or a “Location” Person? It’s time for some more self-evaluation and to determine what’s most important to you in your daily life at home. Usually people tend to lean toward one or the other -- being a “house person” or “location person.” The reason we ask this is that it’s rare for any buyer to find their dream home in their dream location within their budget. That’s why you need to figure out what’s more important to YOU and where you’re willing to compromise. Week 3 – The 3 Steps Most Buyers Skip When Buying a Home There’s a very specific formula we use with clients to make sure they end up with the house that best fits their needs and budget. It requires some patience to make sure things are done right. This is the biggest financial decision of your life, and it should be done slowly, steadily and with precision. This article will go over the 3 steps you need to take that can lead you to the right home for you budget. Week 4 – How to Finance Your First Home Purchase Most first-time buyers are newbies when it comes to mortgage loan options, interest rates, credit scores and more. Did you know you need to get pre-approved for a loan BEFORE you can start looking at homes with your agent? This article will go over why it’s important to get the lender and pre-approval process done correctly so that you can move forward quickly if you want to make a serious offer on a home. Week 5 – Putting It All Together These three factors – budget, location, and your criteria for a home -- are intertwined and play a key role in finding the “perfect” home for you. This article explains how these three factors influence each other in your search for a home; and how you “put it all together” is essentially your roadmap for house hunting. Going through this process and understanding how they’re linked will help you make the right decision on a home. Week 6 – What You Need to Know About Buying for Schools Kids or no kids, living in a neighborhood with excellent schools can be beneficial to homeowners. For those of you with school-aged kids, “moving for schools” will most likely dictate the location of you next home. But, remember that fair housing laws prevent your real estate agent from offering any opinions on the quality of the schools or school districts. This article is a great starting point on how you can best search for a home if a school district is your #1 priority. Week 7 – “As Is” Home – Deal or No Deal? Some first-time buyers may be tempted to buy an “as is” home if the price is right to get into a neighborhood they love. You do need to tread carefully though since there can be vast differences on the state of that “as is” condition. Remember that the seller has no intention to do any repairs before selling it. This article will discuss the steps you should take if you plan to make an offer on an “as is” home, and how to determine if it’s a deal or no deal.
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Yasmine Holbrook
Sep 14, 2022
In The Scoop
Our Dirty Little Secrets for Buying a Home Buying a home for the first time can be confusing. That’s why the tips and strategies you’ll find in our 8-week series will set you on the right path. It’s our own unique approach and a “behind the scenes” glimpse of what you should look out for and consider when starting your own search for a home. You can feel the attraction immediately and imagine a picture-perfect life together for many years ahead. You’ve fallen hard, very hard …. But wait! We’re not talking about your latest date but rather a home you saw while house hunting. Yes, buying a home is like falling in love. You can expect to go through the same ups and downs, emotional tugs and pulls, and even similar stages: Being smitten, getting your heart broken, eventually learning from your mistakes, and becoming wiser and more serious on your quest for “love.” All is fair in love and war … and house hunting! We’ll show you how to make the most of your journey in finding a home you love. The One that Got Away Everyone remembers the devastation of their first heart break. You feel a sense of loss, guilt, and extreme emotions on what you may or may not have done wrong. Guess what? Buyers have that too. Sometimes you have to lose out on a property you absolutely love before you can get serious (and braver) about home buying. Here’s what you can learn from going through this disappointment: Don’t hesitate about your true feelings and be wishy-washy about your intentions. What this means as a buyer: Once you’ve become a serious buyer, you must be ready to put a competitive offer in right away and be the utmost prepared with your maximum budget, financing, deal breakers. You’ve got to get this point BEFORE you begin house hunting. This experience forces you to gain some additional self-awareness on what is really important to you in a home, why you want to become a homeowner, and that you’ve got to open yourself up to negotiation and strategic tactics to seal the deal! Learn to move on and keep searching. What this means as a buyer: Use those feelings of regret as an advantage, and turn it into a positive. You now are a wiser, more seasoned buyer who better understands how the housing market really works in that particular neighborhood and price range. Don’t waste time wallowing; dust yourself off and keep looking at homes since new inventory and listings will come on the market. Don’t look back and don't compare. What this means as a buyer: What happens if you can’t get that master suite bathroom out of your mind from that last home. Or that awesome deck out back. You could go on and on comparing your first heart break with other homes. Stop. It. Immediately. Go back and focus on your original list of must-haves, deal breakers, needs and wants. Or, tweak it if anything has changed and get back out there! Don’t worry, you will fall in love again. What this means as a buyer: Yes, you will find a home and be happy! Most buyers get over their heart break and find a home that works for them and their family. Sometime the struggle will be worth it and you’ll end up with a home that is the perfect match for you. Hopelessly Devoted to That Home Do you believe in love at first sight? Or maybe have fallen in love with someone who might not have been the right choice. Blinded by love or even desperation, we ignore any signs that this isn’t the one really for us. The same thing can happen to homebuyers. You could fall in love with a home or location that really isn’t a good match for you and your family. Unfortunately, some buyers can get swayed by emotion and start to make irrational decisions, especially if a hectic housing market is causing them anxiety. Don’t be a fool in love. Some buyers get hung up on an amazing or gorgeous home that just wows them … but it really doesn’t fit their family’s needs at all (i.e., long commute to work, not enough bedrooms, too small or too big, too expensive, etc.). Never settle for what doesn’t feel right. Some buyers end up with a home that isn’t good enough for them. Yes, home buying does require some compromise, but this refers to ignoring blatant issues with a home that could cause regret later on. For example, they didn’t carefully consider some red flags about the home’s structure, workmanship, etc. This can happen when buyers want a home so badly in a certain neighborhood. It’s times like this that you need to search for some clarity on your part to avoid falling too hard for the wrong home, whether you’re charmed by it or know it’s a flake. Fall in Love with the Right Home You can fall in love with a home that works for you, for most of your needs, for you budget, and your lifestyle. Buying a home is full of emotion, and keeping your heart and head in sync can save you a lot of heartache down the road. Get your priorities straight. We can’t stress this enough but make a list of your must-haves and your deal breakers and stick to it! Don’t be lured by a “hot” looking home when all it might lead to heartbreak down the road for short-term bliss. Know what’s best for you. Only you know what will work for you and your family. It’s your life so don’t listen or be swayed by what your friends have to say. Keep your emotions in check as much as possible and make rational and smart decisions based on what is best for you and your family. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series, “Our Dirty Little Secrets to Buying Your First Home.” Stay tuned in each week as we discuss more topics that will help you on your first home-buying journey. We’ve got more hints and tips coming your way!
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Yasmine Holbrook
May 27, 2022
In The Scoop
I am excited to bring you this series — My Dirty Little Secrets for Buying a Home – featuring little-known tips and strategies that you can’t get anywhere else. I created these secrets based on helping hundreds of buyers over the years. I’ve tested everything that works and weeded out what doesn’t. It’s all here in one place for you! Buying a home can be confusing and even intimidating at times. That’s why it’s perfectly okay to find yourself outside of your comfort zone. My goal with this series is to make you more comfortable and that starts with making you a more confident and knowledgeable homebuyer … with an insider’s edge. The eight articles in this series will uncover “the why’s, the how’s, and the must-do’s” of home buying. You’ll better understand yourself and the journey you’re about to take. So when the time comes, you’ll be fully prepared (and confident) to make an offer on a home. These topics are like the “back story” or a first glimpse of the “behind the scenes” of buying a home. They are a good overview about things you should think about and consider before you begin a serious search for a home. Everyone needs to prep themselves before embarking on something new, right? By reading these articles, you’ll become a more attuned buyer who understands that buying a home doesn’t have to be stressful or full of regret. (I’ve got other series that will be more detailed about mortgages, budgeting, and each and every step you’ll need to take up till closing.) Let’s get started with a rundown of each article for our series: Go With the Flow of the Market: Just like riding a wave in the ocean, you’ve got to learn about that natural ebbs and flows of the market and what to expect when. Buying a home requires an understanding of not only the seasonal shifts in market activity but also the weekly flow of the market. You need to change tactics depending on the season and I’ll break it all down for you and tell you exactly when the tide is coming in. What NEVER to Do Before Buying a Home: Did you know that some normal — even harmless everyday activities — could hurt your chances of buying your dream home? I’ll tell you exactly how you can avoid common slip-ups that might take you out of the homeownership game. Red Flags to Avoid When Buying a Home: No home is perfect, but our list of hidden red flags could save you in the long run. You might be surprised by what to look out for before you make an offer. I’ll explain how to know the difference between a red flag and when to waive the white flag in surrender and move on to another, better home. 4 Little Known House Hunting Tips: Many buyers think looking at homes is much more fun than dealing with their mortgage company. And we agree! But even though you’ll feel like you’re house hunter on an episode of HGTV, it’s still time to be strategic. I’ll tell you about two little-known things you should do, and two things you shouldn’t do when house hunting. Our Buyers’ Most Frequent Questions Answered: The questions swirling around in your mind are likely the same ones that every buyer wants to ask too. You want to make sure you don’t do something wrong, right? Or, you might worry that you don’t know what you don’t know? I provide answers to some of the most common questions we get AND you’ll become better informed and more reassured. Is the “Paradox of Choice” Derailing Your Home Search: As a buyer you might find yourself “wanting to see everything” in your price range or needing to look at “just one more” house or condo? I use the secrets in this book every day with clients and can’t wait to share them with you! More is not always better! How to Buy a Home Even with Student Loan Debt: You’ll be surprised at how you can still buy a home despite having what feels like crushing amounts of student loan debt. There are even some great loan programs for people in certain industries, like doctors, that have ultra-high amounts of debt. “Can’t stop, won’t stop” is my motto when it comes to student loans being in the way of you becoming a homeowner. Buying a Home Is Like Falling in Love: I always say, buying a home is like finding a mate -- you’ve got to know your must-haves and your deal breakers. And, did you know that sometimes you have to get your heart broken by losing out of a property before you can get serious about buying? Sometimes that “first breakup” makes you stronger and wiser. Here’s how you can make the most of your journey in finding a home you love … and will eventually buy.
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Yasmine Holbrook
May 27, 2022
In The Scoop
My Dirty Little Secrets for Buying a Home Series Buying a home for the first time can be confusing. That’s why the tips and strategies you’ll find in our 8-week series will set you on the right path. It’s my own unique approach and a “behind the scenes” glimpse of what you should look out for and consider when starting your own search for a home. Buying a home in the SE Florida market requires an understanding of not only the seasonal shifts in market activity but also the weekly flow of the market. You’ll need to understand that there are two cycles – both a yearly one and weekly one when looking at homes. And you’ll need to be prepared and know what to expect for each one. One simple way to explain these cycles is with a surfing metaphor: It’s like knowing the best time of day to catch the best waves or whether to wear a wetsuit at certain times of the year. Same concept for buyers! Just like a surfer hitting the waves, you start to know what to expect and know what time you need to be out there to get the best outcome. It’s a huge lesson for buyers to know that they’ll need to adapt and be flexible. Go With The Flow I can’t emphasize enough that you’ll be a successful and less stressed buyer if you know how to respond to the cyclical flow of the market -- both seasonal and weekly. My secret tips below will help you understand why timing can affect how you go about looking for a home: The Weekly Inventory Cycle Homes tend to come on the market Thursday and Fridays. As the weekend approaches buyers have time to devote to their home search. Makes sense! That means you have to get organized Friday afternoon or evening to know what homes you are going to see Saturday and/or Sunday. (Your Friday nights will never be the same!) Depending on the neighborhood you are looking in, homes will either go for “speed” or go for “the money.” What that means is, depending on where you are looking, sellers either tend to take offers quickly OR they set deadlines after the weekend to give as many buyers a chance to see their home, hoping to get multiple offers and drive the price up. If you see a home you like online, reach out to your agent and flag the listing so your agent can reach out to the seller’s agent to see if you need to rush out to see it and go for speed, or if you can take your time and have a set deadline, typically for early the following week. There are exceptions to this rule, but typically, this is how the weekly cycle of new listings works. Keep in mind that the inventory of homes for sale changes weekly, and depending on the time of year it can be drastic. So once you decide to seriously buy a home, you really need to be out there looking every weekend you can in order to see what has come on the market each and every week. And again, have a strategy in place for “speed” or “the money.” The Yearly Inventory Cycle Here’s a breakdown of what to expect during the year: · Inventory (the number of homes on the market) in the SE Florida area has a yearly cycle that looks like a bell curve with the low periods in January and December, and the height of the inventory peaking April through June. · The overall market slows down in July and August but picks up right after Labor Day. What’s this all mean for you? Go with the flow! If you are starting your search in December, January or August, be prepared that there won’t be that many homes to see. If you can be patient and wait it out until March, April, May or June, you’ll have plenty to choose from. That’s why you don’t want to get frustrated or give up on your dream to own a home if it’s simply timing that’s not on your side. There are exceptions to every rule, so if you want to know what to expect for your own home search, get in touch and I’ll help you through it all. It’s not one-size-fits-all and there are not hard rules, just trends to keep in mind. Let me know what you are looking for and where you would like to live. We can get you started on your search and help you fine-tune it to your needs and budget. That way you’ll know what to expect and avoid any anxiety about your search. “Chillax” and ride the wave of this great SE Florida market! Let us show you how. Next up in my Dirty Little Secrets for Buying a Home series is a must-read – What NEVER to Do Before Buying a Home. These tips will save you a lot of grief!
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Yasmine Holbrook

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