How to Plan for Retirement When You are In Your 30s

For many of us, our 30s are a dynamic time in life. During these busy years, jobs turn into careers and relationships are solidified by marriage or transformed by children.  Most people are also in their mid-30s when they purchase their first home.  While these are all expensive items, one thing you should not overlook is saving for retirement.

financial moves in your 30s

financial moves in your 30s

Retirement seems a long way off when you are 30, but is much closer when you turn 39.  The sooner you start saving and investing for your golden years, the more money you will have when the time comes. And, if you work it right, you may even be able to start your retirement earlier than expected.

Thirty-three percent of people ages 30 to 49 years old don’t have a retirement account. YIKES!! If you’re within this one-third of people, and in your 30s, you need to make retirement savings a priority.

If you aren’t in your 30s, these articles can help with retirement planning:


Invest in your 401(k)

If your company offers retirement savings through a 401(k), start by discussing your options with someone in human resources. They can get you set up with a plan that works well with your income and goals.

If you currently contribute to your company’s plan, make sure you are making the maximum contribution that they may match.  For example, if they match 25% of what you contribute, up to 4% of your contributions, that is FREE MONEY!  Make sure your contribution is 4% as they will give you 1% for free – for a total 5% contribution.

As you get a raise, continue to increase your contribution by 1% annually.  You will not miss the money and will be on target for achieving your savings goals.

Open an IRA

Another retirement vehicle to consider is an IRA.  An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an easy way to add more money to your retirement savings.  You can contribute up to $5,500 (subject to age and income limitations) and the contributions may be tax deductible (see your CPA).

Visit with a Financial Planner

Financial Planners are a must when you have investments and are saving for retirement.  They analyze and help ensure you are on the right path to achieving your financial goals.  They don’t usually charge for their services (if you invest with them) and can tailor a plan just for you.

Don’t change jobs

Sometimes it is tempting to change jobs because it looks better.  But, keep in mind that you will need to start over with service requirements and contributions to a retirement plan.  The company may also have a plan that is not nearly as robust as the one through your current employer, making you miss out on additional savings.

Diversify your investments

As you get older, the level of risk you can, or are willing to take, changes.  You can be much more aggressive in your 20s and early 30s, but as you approach your 40s, you may want to make adjustments.  Ask your investment or financial advisor about changes you should make each year.


In addition to saving for retirement, there are goals you may want to achieve and financial rules you should follow once you hit your 30s.


Make sure you have a written budget you follow every month.  You should account for every penny you make — in essence giving every penny a job.  Don’t forget to include items such as additional retirement and emergency fund savings accounts.

Watch your Credit Report and Score

Each year, check your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport (this is the free site mandated by the government and the only one you should use).  Check for errors such as items that should have been discharged, accounts you did not open and other issues so you can submit them for correction.

You should also know your credit score.  You can use a free site such as Credit Sesame to check your credit score, but keep in mind it is your vantage score (so not your true score – but it is pretty accurate). If you want to know your actual credit score, offers this and access to your credit reports from all agencies for a reasonable fee.

Save at least six months of income

Experts have always said you should save three months of your income in case of an emergency.  However, if we learned anything during the last recession, that isn’t quite enough. If you are single, work on saving at least six months of income and if you have a family, aim for nine.    You can increase your savings in many ways, such as eating out less, selling items and even getting a second job.

Have a will and health care directives

It is something none of us wants to think about, but it is important to not only have a will, but also health care directives as well.  For around $70 – $90 you can create one at LegalZoom. However, if your situatio is more complex, or you are not comfortable creating one yourself, it is important to reach out to an attorney who specializes in estate planning.

Check your life insurance

If you have kids, you need life insurance.  And, it is also wise to purchase policies on them as well.  If something happens to any of you, funeral expenses alone can be a financial burden.  Then, if there are medical expenses you need to pay for on top of burial costs, it can cause a lot of financial strain for your loved ones.

Invest Time, Too

A 2014 survey conducted by Charles Schwab, found that only 11 percent of workers spent five hours or more assessing their 401(k) investment options. This is far less time than how long many of us spend researching a new car or a vacation! If the idea of investments and the terminology attached overwhelms, you might consider taking a course.  It might be good to think about hiring someone to help.

A trained professional can ensure you are meeting your retirement goals. When you work with a financial planner, he or she will help you establish an account and assist with diversification – an important element to successful investment. A good financial planner can be invaluable when your accounts, and family, grow.

Steady As You Grow

Once children enter the picture, so do a host of excuses about why retirement saving is impossible. While it’s important to provide every avenue of support for your little ones, you must do so responsibly. For instance, starting a state-sponsored 529-college plan for your children is a great way to save for college expenses but it’s important to remember that they can always get a loan for school – you can’t for retirement.

What is your key takeaway for saving if you are in your 30s? Start putting more money away for retirement. While saving 10-15 percent of your income for retirement might be difficult, it will feel so good when you are comfortably retiring in your 60s.

saving for retirement in your 30s

saving for retirement in your 30s


6 Things Landlords Want You To Know About Renting Right Now

Touring, leasing, and moving into an apartment looks a little different nowadays. The COVID-19 pandemic has made venturing outside our homes riskier than ever, but despite the health hazards, many renters have found themselves at the tail end of their lease and in need of a new place to live.

So landlords are doing their best to keep the rental process moving along, despite the challenges.

“As property managers, we are still adjusting to all of these sudden changes,” says Fernando Avila, a property manager, broker-salesman and Realtor® for Atlas Group LC in Las Vegas, NV.

Some of those common changes include offering comprehensive virtual apartment tours and closing common-area amenities, like fitness centers, pools, and business centers. What else would landlords and property managers like renters to know? Read on for insight into how they are trying to make the renting process a little less precarious in this uncertain time.

1. Safety is a priority

While relocating during this period may seem scary, property managers want to reassure current and future tenants that they take the safety of apartment communities very seriously.

“There are tens of thousands of property management professionals across the country—including leasing staff, maintenance workers, concierges, and parking and security teams—that have shown up to work every day through this pandemic to keep apartment communities functioning and to ensure residents’ safety,” says Najam Syed, ​head of asset management for Brightline Trains and Parkline Communities in Miami, FL.

He says some of the precautionary measures they are taking include installing automatic door openers to allow secure, touchless entry and putting antimicrobial coatings on high-traffic surfaces.

2. Keep the lines of communication open

In times like these, there is no such thing as over-communication. Landlords and property managers want future tenants to know they’re listening and that they understand renters may have some concerns when considering a new property.

“Communication continues to be key. When applying, a simple conversation with us will give the applicant a better understanding of what can be expected and if the property is the right fit,” says Avila.

3. Essential jobs are a plus

With each week, more states are opening up and sending more people back to work to join essential personnel. But in tough economic times, landlord and property managers want to be sure that potential renters have the income and employment to make their monthly rent.

“Unlike before, applicants with an essential job are easier to qualify, since we know income for them is more feasible,” says Avila.

He says his company still screens and processes applications as it did before, wanting to see reasonable proof of income, a good rental history, and an acceptable credit score.


Watch: The Rent Is Too High? Here’s How to Haggle It Down


4. Move-ins are safe

Many renters may initially have some trepidation about the entire moving process—and chiefly whether or not they can still hire a moving company. Moving companies are considered essential services.

“If you are considering relocating to an apartment community, housing moves can be completed in a responsible manner, now that social distancing is an accepted and promoted practice,” says Syed.

Many moving companies are following such procedures as disinfecting their vehicles daily; requiring movers to wear face masks and shoe coverings; washing their hands for 20 seconds upon entering your home; and immediately putting on single-use gloves.

Syed says his property has implemented move-in policies that observe social distancing.

5. Landlords want to better serve you

Finding an apartment in the age of COVID-19 may require some extra leg work on the tenant’s part, but property managers want us to know that they are making a lot of changes to ensure the health and happiness of tenants during the new normal.

“We have redesigned leasing tours, optimized office layouts, and socially distanced communal and co-working areas,” says Syed.

He says that for new developments, property managers are seeking to maximize outdoor green space, and are considering upgrades to HVAC systems, installation of antimicrobial finishes, and reviewing common space usage and furnishing.

“Before you choose to call a community your home for the next 12 to 14 months, it would be prudent to review its COVID-19 response to see if the service level matches your expectations,” he says.

6. Wanted: New tenants

Nothing drops rent prices quite like a global pandemic, or so it seems in many markets throughout the country. Landlords want to fill vacancies, which means they can be willing to price down their units or offer incentives, such as a month of free rent or waiving a deposit.

“In response to employment declines in most major cities, some communities are offering meaningful discounts on immediate move-ins,” says Syed.

“Just like cars, furniture, and publicly traded stocks, apartments are also on sale.”

That might be the silver lining if you have to move right now.


The Top 9 Contingencies to Consider in Your Offer When Buying a Home

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, buying a home is an exciting time in your life — not to mention a little anxiety-inducing. But after touring dozens of homes and finally finding “the house,” you’re ready to make an offer. Before you do, take time to consider all the potential risks and home-buying contingencies that will help protect you as a buyer. Such as being able to back out of your offer if a significant repair issue is discovered, like a crack in the foundation or leaking roof. Though you can technically add any contingency you want to an offer, here are the 9 most common homebuying contingencies to consider.

homebuying contingencies

homebuying contingencies

1) Home inspection contingency

As the buyer you should always order a home inspection. A trained and certified home inspector will look for issues with the structure and home systems (like plumbing, electrical, and HVAC) that may not be obvious to the buyer. When you purchase a house that ends up in need of a major repair, you could take a significant financial hit. The inspection contingency can protect you from purchasing a poor property investment because it allows you to back out of the deal if a major issue is discovered.

2) Appraisal contingency

An appraisal contingency protects lenders more so than the homebuyer, and is almost always required by your lending institution if you’re taking out a home loan. It confirms to your lender that the home is worth the price you’re paying for it, and if you default on your loan they will be able to recoup their expenses by selling the house. 

A favorable home appraisal, however, may offer you peace of mind, knowing that you are buying a home with instant equity because the value is more significant than your purchase offer. With an appraisal contingency in place, you can also back out of the purchase of the home if it’s appraised value isn’t as high as it’s listing price.

3) Financing contingency

A financing contingency is a clause in your offer that allows you to back out if you cannot secure a mortgage to buy the home. The financing contingency protects both the bank and the homebuyer. It gives the bank the opportunity to verify your financial history, income levels, and what you can actually afford, while also allowing you to walk away from an offer you can’t afford it.

4) Home sale contingency

This contingency is common for buyers who need the equity from the sale of their current home to purchase the next one, usually going toward the down payment and closing costs. Even if you have funds available for a downpayment, not every homebuyer can afford to pay two mortgages while waiting to sell their current home. This gives buyers the option to back out of the deal if they cannot sell their current home by a specified date.

5) Clear title contingency 

The property title shows ownership and any mortgages against the house. In every real estate transaction, the title company runs a title report on the property to ensure no contractor liens or judgments are outstanding against the property. If the report finds liens or judgments, the buyer can require the seller to satisfy them before the closing date. If these items are not cleared before closing, this contingency allows the buyer to walk away from the deal.  

6) Kick-out contingency

The kick-out contingency benefits the seller by allowing them to continue marketing their house even if the house is under another contingent contract. For example, if a home seller accepted an offer from a buyer that has a home sale contingency, the kick-out contingency would allow the seller to accept another offer and kick out the previous buyer’s offer. This way the home seller does not have to wait around for someone else’s house to sell before theirs can be sold. Usually, the homebuyer with the initial offer gets a specified amount of time – roughly a few days – to either remove their home sale contingency and move forward with the purchase or choose to walk away.

7) Home insurance contingency

As a requirement for financing, lenders require homebuyers to start a home insurance policy before the final loan is approved. This covers the house if something happens after the seller moves out, but before the buyer moves in. This contingency protects the lender and allows them to recover the mortgage amount. If the buyer can’t get insurance on the property, either party can walk away from the purchase.

modern living room condo

modern living room condo

8) Homeowners association (HOA) contingency

The HOA contingency applies to homes or condos under a homeowner association’s supervision. It gives the buyers the right and time to review any HOA agreements and documentation applicable to them as the home’s new owners. If they don’t receive the documentation in time or don’t agree with HOA obligations or restrictions, this contingency can help them get out of the deal. So, if you’re moving to an area like Miami, FL where most condos are a part of an HOA, this would be a contingency worth considering.

9) Move-in early contingency

This contingency allows a buyer to move into a property before final closing – if the seller agrees. If a buyer moves in early, it’s harder to walk away from the deal if other contingencies are not satisfied. If the deal falls through, the seller can evict the buyer. Most real estate agents will advise the seller not to accept an offer with an early move-in contingency. 

Contingencies provide useful protection to both homebuyers and sellers. The buyer’s contingencies protect them from various unknowns about the house itself and the actual purchase transaction. While sellers may view them as potential obstacles, they create an escape hatch if the buyer runs into difficulties selling their current house or obtaining financing. As you prepare your offer, be sure to ask your real estate agent for advice about which contingencies are best for your situation and the current housing market.


Redfin survey shows greater optimism for housing in 2021

Around 60% of home buyers and sellers said in a survey by Redfin that they’re optimistic that the housing market will improve in 2021, which is a big leap on what people said in a similar survey the previous year.

High earners and homeowners are the most upbeat about housing’s prospects, the survey of 1,400 people conducted in November and December found.

Almost three quarters of people who make more than $150,000 a year said they believe the housing market will fare better this year than it did in 2020, which is the highest proportion of any group, as determined by their income. In addition, 64% of homeowners said they believe housing will do better this year than it did in 2020. Sellers generally expressed more optimism than buyers, which is likely explained by the recent double-digit gains in home prices.

“Most homeowners are well aware that their home value has increased and they’ve become wealthier on paper over the last year, and they’re optimistic it will continue this year,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather, in a statement. “That belief is well-founded. I expect price growth to continue throughout the year as remote work culture drives interest in moving to bigger homes in rural and suburban areas.”

Fairweather said that existing homeowners are the most likely to benefit from a hot housing market. On the contrary, first-time buyers will have a much harder time breaking into the market in 2021 than they have had in recent years.

De4spite that, around half of all renters in the U.S. say they’re optimistic about housing in 2021, Redfin’s report found. Renters might be drawn into home ownership by the prospect of record low mortgage rates and the likelihood of more inventory coming onto the market this year, Fairweather said.

“But renters hoping to become first-time home buyers are also more discouraged by rising prices and competition because they don’t get to use the proceeds from selling their current home to buy a new one,” he added.


Mortgage mayhem: Lenders pull gov’t loans, refuse to lock, and raise credit score minimums

Wait — what’s going on in the mortgage market right now?

Last week, the Federal Reserve offered assurance to lenders who were struggling to price mortgage rates.

There’s no question this was helpful. 30-year mortgage rates responded by dropping to just 3.33% average for the week, nearing the all-time low from a few weeks ago.

In any other environment, that would be great news for home buyers and refinancers.

But right now? Not so much.

Lenders are acting unpredictably as they face challenges they’ve never experienced before. It’s getting harder for them to make good loans and stay profitable.

In turn, borrowers are facing bigger and bigger hurdles.

Entire loan programs are disappearing, lenders are raising credit score minimums, and some won’t even lock your rate.

Here’s how to make sense of it all.

Verify your new rate (Jan 25th, 2021)

Lenders are tightening credit standards

As the economy continues to act erratically, many lenders are forced to take their own actions to help sustain themselves.

Lenders are making significant changes to FHA, VA and USDA loans. These changes could make home loans unavailable for mortgage borrowers who could have qualified just weeks earlier.

Some lenders have completely withdrawn government-backed loans — refusing to offer them at all for the time being.

And lenders that are still in the game have upped their minimum credit score requirements by as much as 100 points. To give just a few examples:

  • Wells Fargo has adjusted its minimum score requirement to 680 for all government loans (FHA, VA, and USDA)
  • US Bank also requires a 680 credit score for FHA, VA, and USDA loans, and 640 for conventional loans
  • loanDepot is requiring a 620 minimum FICO score for VA and FHA loans with a higher score (660+) for cash-out or streamline refinancing
  • Flagstar is requiring a 640 score for both purchase transactions and non-cash out refinances

Many other lenders are at 660 minimum for these types of loans.

While some lenders are still offering mortgage loans with scores as low as 620, many are setting standards so high that very few fit into the small window of eligibility.

For example, many lenders advertising a 620 credit score are doing so only if you can meet certain requirements.  For example, you might need:

  • At least two month’s worth of payments in the bank
  • No gift funds allowed for down payment or closing costs
  • No non-owner occupants without a 680 credit score

For many people who choose government-backed loans like FHA or VA, the looser qualification guidelines are a big draw.

The more stringent requirements lenders are putting in place could make home loans inaccessible for many until coronavirus fears calm down.

Some mortgage companies won’t let you lock at today’s rates

Mortgage lenders are tightening their rate lock requirements too.

Many won’t allow mortgage borrowers to lock until their loan is clear to close.

Effectively, that means you might not know what your mortgage rate is until you’re ready to sign your final papers days before the loan is completed and potentially week or months after you applied.

You might not know what your mortgage rate is until you’re ready to sign your final papers.

For many refinancers, that could make the point of refinancing moot, if their rate isn’t low enough to justify the closing costs.

And for buyers, a high rate could mean starting the loan shopping process again from ground zero.

Other lenders refusing to lock rates at all until the volatility slows down.

How the bailout could cripple the mortgage industry

You might wonder why lenders are cracking down so much on new borrowers.

Isn’t the Fed offering mortgage bankers huge bailouts? And wouldn’t lenders want more business in a time when many industries are going under?

Well, it’s not quite that simple.

The Fed’s unprecedented $183 billion purchase of mortgage-backed securities recently was meant to drive down mortgage rates. And, it worked.

However, mortgage servicers are now facing a difficult position as more homeowners elect to suspend payments during the crisis.

When a homeowner misses a payment, servicing companies are contractually obligated to advance payments to investors in securities markets.

The Mortgage Bankers Association warns that the U.S. housing market is “in danger of large-scale disruption,” due to efforts by the Federal Reserve that were intended to help rescue the mortgage market.

In other words, you’re not paying your mortgage company, but it still has to pay its own creditors.

A flood of missed mortgage payments is threatening to bankrupt U.S. mortgage lenders, deepening the economic toll of the pandemic.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), in a dismal letter to regulators, warned that the U.S. housing market is “in danger of large-scale disruption,” due to efforts by the Federal Reserve that were intended to help rescue the mortgage market.

>> Related: How to pause mortgage payments if you lost your job due to COVID-19

What’s happening to mortgage companies behind the scenes

This is where it gets technical.

The Feds forcefully entered the mortgage market a couple of weeks ago — in part, to combat rising rates. And in part, because of a fear that borrowers wouldn’t be able to pay their loans.

All told, the Fed has purchased $250 billion in mortgages over the past two weeks.

That’s $84 billion more than the Fed had bought over any four-week period during the financial crisis in 2009.

While the Fed helped drive rates down, they also blew up a widespread “hedge” that mortgage lenders use to protect themselves against rate increases.

Hedging pays lenders if the prevailing rate in the market is higher than the mortgage rate they locked in with the customer.

Normally, hedging is considered to be a safe trade. The hedge simply protects the lender against higher rates until the mortgage closes.

This system works well, most of the time.

But when mortgage rates are highly volatile — as they’ve been these past weeks — it’s difficult for lenders to use the same hedging strategy.

And, compounding the problem, many would-be homeowners couldn’t close on their loans because of quarantines.

Locking lots of loans that didn’t close left mortgage lenders with only the cost of the hedge and no income from the loan closing.

The huge volatility in mortgage bonds created massive margin calls from the broker-dealers, who wrote the hedges, to their mortgage bankers.

According to Barry Habib, founder of MBS Highway, “Some of these mortgage bankers are now facing margin calls of tens of millions of dollars that could drive them out of business.”

In its letter to regulators, the MBA said:  “The dramatic price volatility in the market for agency mortgage-backed securities [MBS] over the past week is leading to broker-dealer margin calls on mortgage lenders’ hedge positions that are unsustainable for many such lenders.”

The letter went on to say, “Margin calls on mortgage lenders reached staggering and unprecedented levels by the end of the week. For a significant number of lenders, many of which are well-capitalized, these margin calls are eroding their working capital and threatening their ability to continue to operate.”

While the stock market is playing a game of Chutes and Ladders, lenders are scurrying to find ways to continue to successfully operate in foreign territory.

What should you do if you’re trying to get a mortgage?

The roller coaster ride that mortgage lenders are experiencing isn’t all doom and gloom for you.

In fact, there is a bit of a silver lining for mortgage borrowers. Until the economy settles down, mortgage lenders are trying to balance how much to pull back vs making good loans.

Not all lenders are reacting the same way.

This means some lenders have not instituted minimum score requirements as low as their competitors. Some lenders may not be hedging as much as others, which means lower rates.

Now more than ever before, mortgage borrowers should shop around until they find a lender that can fit your needs.

>> Related: How to shop for a mortgage and compare rates

Questions you should ask a mortgage lender right now

If you’re currently in the market for a loan, you’ll want to make sure you’re asking your lender plenty of questions:

  • What are your minimum credit score requirements?
  • How long do you expect it to take from application to closing?
  • At what point can I lock my rate and for how long?
  • What happens if my loan doesn’t close within the allotted rate lock period?
  • Who will be responsible for rate extension fees if my loan doesn’t close on time?
  • Do you have a float-down policy if rates drop significantly after locking?
  • Is the rate you’re quoting me include any discount points?

Unlike the housing crash a decade ago, the housing and mortgage markets are much healthier now.

Homeowners have a record amount of equity, so there’s less risk of home values dropping far enough to put many homeowners underwater (like what happened during the subprime mortgage crisis).

Is it a good time to act on low rates?

Say you find a low rate, and a lender that’s still offering favorable loan terms.

Even then, you should weigh the decision of taking out a new loan carefully.

How stable is your job looking right now? How much do you have in savings? And if you were to become unemployed, could you still make the mortgage payment?

Some borrowers might stand to benefit from today’s low rates, but it’s certainly not the right time for everyone.

Rates will likely stay low even after this crisis is over, so don’t think staying on the safe side will backfire. Make the decision that’s best for you.

Verify your new rate (Jan 25th, 2021)


If a Sale Doesn’t Go Through, Who Pays the Appraisal Fee?

If you’re buying a home, one of the (many) things you must check off your list is hiring a professional to do a home appraisal to assess the property’s value. But what if you check it off your list and then, for whatever reason, the home sale falls through—who pays the appraisal fee then?

Let’s take a look.

What is a home appraisal anyway?

A home appraisal is a professional assessment of how much a property is worth. Unless you’re paying for your home in cash, it’s a non-negotiable in the process. Most lenders require an appraisal before they’ll grant you a mortgage. Your home is their collateral, and if you can’t pay your mortgage, they want to make sure they can get back as much of their money as possible. An appraisal also helps protect you from buying an overpriced property.

The appraiser will take an unbiased look at a home, the condition it’s in, any repairs it needs, and other factors, and will also likely compare it to other similar properties in the area before providing an estimate of what they think it’s worth. An appraisal goes deeper than the comps your real estate agent likely gathered and presented to you when you were first considering the property—but not as deep as a home inspection, which you’ll also want to have completed in most cases before the sale is final.

If the appraised value is higher than the cost of the home you want to purchase, good for you! You’re making an investment that’s paying off from the get-go. If, however, the appraised value is lower than the price of the house, then you have a variety of options—including negotiating with the seller, challenging the appraisal, and/or getting a second one. Or, of course, you could walk away from the deal completely.

The cost of a professional appraisal varies depending on where you live; but in general, you can expect to pay somewhere around $300 to $400 for one.


Watch: Don’t Put Your Faith in These Common Home Appraisal Myths


Who pays the home appraisal fee when a deal falls through?

In most cases, even though the appraisal is for the benefit of the lender and the appraiser is selected by the lender, the fee is paid by the buyer. It may be wrapped up into closing costs, or you may have to pay it upfront.  There are some cases, however, in which a seller will offer to pay the appraisal fee to make the deal more attractive.

So, back to the original question: When a sale falls through, who’s on the line for the fee? In most cases, it’s still going to be the buyer.

“The buyer is usually required to pay the appraisal fee upfront, and it is owed even if the lender does not move forward with a loan,” says Lee Dworshak, a real estate agent with Keller Williams LA Harbor Realty in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. “While the seller may have agreed to pay all closing costs, if the closing does not occur and the property is not conveyed, the seller is not required to pay your appraisal fee.”

If a buyer doesn’t pay the appraisal fee upfront and instead rolls it into the rest of her closing costs, that doesn’t mean she’s off the hook if she doesn’t close.

“It has nothing to do with the seller; it is ordered by your lender, and payment is due regardless of the outcome,” says Maria Jeantet, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker C&C Properties in Redding, CA. “It is typically paid by the buyer unless specifically negotiated ahead of time to be paid by the seller.”

Having a home sale fall through is usually a bummer for both the seller and the buyer, and having to pay for an appraisal on a home you’re not going to buy adds a bit of insult to injury. Just know that while the appraisal fee can sting, it can save buyers from a much bigger financial wallop that comes with buying an overpriced home.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small price to pay when it comes to finding the right house at the right price.


Crushing Your Sales Plateau

To be honest, like many others in this business I was never good at goal setting, but I am changing that. While I help clients and customers reach desired outcomes, I’ve experienced a plateau before and have been at the same amount of sales for many years. With encouragement from those around me, it was time to leverage goal setting and begin the process of having more conversations, selling myself to more people, with greater frequency, in order to get my sales to a higher level.

  1. Create a system to track and measure your efforts. The first thing I did was create a spreadsheet to manage and hold myself accountable for the number of conversations and touchpoints necessary to overcome the plateau. It’s keeping track of phone calls, community events, talking to people at local stores, and geotargeting a new neighborhood to become the local market expert for that area.
  2. Use your results to determine what technique works best for you. There are many sales techniques and many ways to generate business but, what I have found that works for me, is to first build a personal relationship, and then sell myself and my unique value proposition. I want clients to hire me because they want to, whether it takes one conversation, two conversations, five conversations, or meeting in person a few times. I think it makes the relationship smoother and stronger, and it makes the goal of getting them the outcomes they desire a lot more effective.
  3. Apply your technique and engage your sphere. Ultimately, it’s important for agents to find their own rhythm. Every person has something they’re good at, and they’re going to attract certain people and certain personalities. For me, most of my conversations are in real estate settings, like open houses or industry-related events. When I analyze and look at where my business is coming from, most of it is coming from the sphere that I built and manage. Not only that, I’m reaching them with weekly personalized emails, many times with video, about their local market. Obviously, we want to engage them, but the information must be relevant. Don’t bore them with the same old stuff. It’s difficult to find topics that people are or should be, interested in.
Crushing Your Sales Plateau image 1

Selling yourself as the local market expert to your sphere can be key. This can help you build the relationships your business needs to grow. In real estate, there will always be change, so staying ahead of it by knowing your market can be the value proposition you’re looking for. For me, it’s what helped me to get over my sales plateau to grow my business and take it to the next level.

Note: This material may contain suggestions and best practices that you may use at your discretion.  The views, information, or opinions expressed in any user-generated content are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.


Priscilla Presley sells Beverly Hills compound for $13 million

After nearly half a century in Beverly Hills, Priscilla Presley is moving on. The actress and former wife of rock legend Elvis Presley has sold her Spanish-style compound for $13 million, The Times has confirmed.

The estate surfaced for sale over the summer for the first time in over 45 years asking $16 million, but an October price cut brought the tag down to $14.5 million.

Gated and landscaped, the leafy retreat centers on a 1950s villa of nearly 9,000 square feet. It is surrounded by a series of gardens, lawns and terraces and includes amenities such as a swimming pool and tennis court.


A whimsical gate accesses a courtyard at the front of the home, which draws the eye with a bright yellow façade lined with ivy and topped with clay tile. The living spaces are rife with Spanish style, including exposed beams, arched doorways and ornate fireplaces across two stories.

Rich wood panels wrap around the library, and the formal dining room adds velvet drapes and a crystal chandelier. Elsewhere are seven bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms, including an owner’s suite with a private terrace.

Jonah Wilson of Hilton & Hyland held the listing. Peter Zimble and Dan Beder of Sotheby’s International Realty represented the buyer.

Presley, 75, was married to Elvis Presley for about six years and served as the chairwoman of Elvis Presley Enterprises. As an actress, she is known for her roles in “The Naked Gun” films and on the prime-time television soap opera “Dallas.”


Last year, she sold a Brentwood ranch for $3.8 million, records show.


605: How to Step Out of Production and Scale Your Team with Matt O’Neill

Unless you step out of production, you can’t scale your team to meet its full potential – that’s what real estate agent Matt O’Neill realized while attending a Tony Robbins event. This realization led to the decision to step out of production for good, and Matt couldn’t be happier with his business or his life now as a result. On today’s Real Estate Rockstars, Matt explains how he scaled his business successfully and covers some of the pitfalls he encountered so listeners like you can avoid them. Plus, Matt shares the resources that helped him boost profits and improve his team’s prospecting results more than anything else.

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