Top 6 Home Buying Risks To Avoid

June 22, 2019 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Buying a house

Buying a home, especially as a first time home buyer, while can be an exciting time, can be a scary, stressful and expensive process. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risks involved. By having an idea of what you may encounter when buying a home, you can take steps to avoid them. If you think you’re ready to buy a house, here are some home buying risks to avoid.

If you are interested in comparing the best mortgage rates through LendingTree click here. It’s completely free.

Check out: 5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Buy a House

If the process of buying a home seems complicated to you, it may make sense to speak with a professional. The SmartAdvisor free matching tool can connect you with up to three financial advisors in your neighborhood.

1. Obtaining the wrong mortgage.

The worst thing you can do when buying a house is to obtain the wrong home loan. A bad mortgage loan can be one with a high interest rate, which means that your monthly payments are higher. You also have to pay more in interest over the term of the loan.

The people who find themselves in this kind of situation are those who fail to shop for multiple mortgage lenders before deciding on one.

Not all mortgage loans are created equal. Mortgage rates and fees may differ from lender to lender. So to avoid this risk, you should plan to compare several mortgage rates. While the mortgage process can be overwhelming at times, you can navigate the process by comparing home loans side by side through LendingTree.

LendingTree: A Better Way to Find A Mortgage is making getting a mortgage loan simpler, faster, and more accessible. Compare the best mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time. LEARN MORE ON LENDINGTREE.COM >>>

2. You don’t have any job security.

Another of the several home buying risks to avoid is to make sure you have a stable job with a steady paycheck so you can make your payments on time.

Unless you were able to purchase your home with all cash, you will need to make monthly mortgage payments to satisfy your loan requirements.

In addition, you will need to consider additional expenses, like money to replace the roof or to renovate the kitchen and bathroom. Therefore you will need a steady paycheck or stream of income.

So before you jump into homeownership, make sure you have a stable job.

Related: Apply for a Mortgage Loan Today

3. You forget about other costs.

First time home buyers may think that buying a house only involves finding and getting a mortgage loan, coming up with a down payment, making an offer on a house that they like, and preparing for closing.

However, they may not realize that there are other costs that come with buying a house.

In addition to the down payment and mortgage payments, they need to come up with closing costs, inspection costs, moving costs, maintenance costs, taxes, etc… And if you don’t consider and budget for these costs, you may be in hot water.

4. Buying a home full with problems.

You may have found a house you’ve always dreamed about. But it’s never good idea to purchase a home without conducting a building inspection.

A house inspection is crucial, because it can let you know of a lot of problems that you as a first time home buyer would have never thought existed.

It can reveal problems with the structure of the house, the roof, plumbing, electricity, etc.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.

If you ignore house inspection and move in anyway, these issues can end up cost you a lot of money and can also be detrimental to your safety and well-being.

In conclusion, buying a home can be a fun and exciting experience. It can also come with unique challenges. By being aware of these home buying risks, you can take steps to avoid them.

More articles on buying a house:

The Biggest Mistakes Millennials Make When Buying a House

How Much House Can I Afford

5 Signs You’re Better Off Renting

10 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

Not All Mortgage Lenders Are Created Equally

When it comes to getting a mortgage, rates and fees vary. LendingTree allows you to view and compare multiple mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time, so you can choose the best rates for your needs. LendingTree makes getting a loan faster, simpler, and better. Get started today >>>


Buying A Foreclosed Home in 10 Simple Steps.

Buying a foreclosed home is probably one of the best financial decisions you can make as a first time home buyer (although it’s not without risk).

In fact, it’s one of the best ways to make a good return on your investment. That is because foreclosed homes usually have more value than a traditional purchase.

However, the process of buying a foreclosed home can be risky and is different than a traditional purchase.

Plus, it can be very competitive as other buyers (sometimes real estate investors with a lot of cash) are probably looking for the same opportunity.

If you are interested in comparing the best mortgage rates through LendingTree click here. It’s completely free

So, if you’re thinking of buying a foreclosed home soon, do your due diligence and act fast. And use the following steps below as a guideline.

What is a foreclosure?

Before we learn how to buy a foreclosed home, we need to define what a foreclosure is.

Simply stated, a foreclosure is a property where the owner has defaulted on his or her loan payments. It can be other loan requirements, such as not having proper insurance coverage for the property. It can also be keeping the property in a bad condition.

LendingTree: A Better Way to Find A Mortgage is making getting a mortgage loan simpler, faster, and more accessible. Compare the best mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time. LEARN MORE ON LENDINGTREE.COM >>>

The lender (a bank, credit union, etc…) in the hope of getting some of their money back, takes legal possession of the property. The lender, in turn, will try to sell the house.

Foreclosed homes make buying a house a great opportunity for home buyers.

Why? The lender’s goal is to sell the foreclosed home as fast as possible. Holding on to a foreclosed, empty home costs the lender money.

So they are more concerned about selling it as quickly as possible rather than holding on to it for the highest price.

If you’re considering of buying a foreclosed home, follow these steps below.

Buying a foreclosed home in 10 Simple Steps:

If you’re a motivated buyer willing to buy a house in foreclosure, knowing these steps is important in order to buy a house at below market. It’s even more important if you’re buying a foreclosed home at auction.

Here are the 5 steps you need to take when considering buying a foreclosed home.

1. Get your finance in order

Remember you’re buying a foreclosed home from a bank that wants to get rid of the property as fast as they can. So time if of the essence.

Time is of the essence, especially if you’re buying the foreclosed home at an auction. Once your hand goes up, and you win the bid, be prepared to pay the down payment and sign the contract. Generally with buying a foreclosed home at an auction, there’s no cooling off period.

So organize your finance before you start looking.

That means knowing how much you can afford to borrow, making sure your credit score is in good shape, and having your down payment is ready, etc…

2. Secure a pre-approval letter from a lender.

Buying a regular house requires you to take out a mortgage loan to finance it (unless, of course, you have enough cash to buy the whole property).

Buying a foreclosed home is no different. The same concept applies.

Related: Apply for a Mortgage Loan Today

So before you start looking for a foreclosed home, make sure you can secure a mortgage. You can start doing that by getting pre-approved.

The process is not complicated, all you need is to find mortgage lenders. Then compile all necessary documents including your bank statements, pay stubs, or other forms of income.

Your credit score is one of the most important things, mortgage lenders look at to pre-approve you. So make sure your credit score is good.

Having a pre-approval letter can signal to sellers that you’re a serious buyer. It can also signal that you will be able to secure a loan.

3. Work with a real estate agent

A real estate agent will not only help you find current foreclosed homes listings, but can also inform you of those properties that will be listed soon.

This way, you are able to go through all of the foreclosed homes that are within your mortgage pre-approval range.

There are other reasons working with a real estate agent is important when buying a foreclosed home.

One is that, they may have experience helping other people finding foreclosed homes. Second, with that experience, they are able to tell you whether a foreclosed home will make a good buy or not.

4. Start your search: where to find foreclosed homes?

Finding a home in foreclosure can be very easy. Generally, your real estate agent can give you a list of them. You can easily find them listed on popular sites like Zillow, Redfin or Trulia.

Better yet, you can drive through any neighborhood, and you will likely see signs that say “bank owned”

Are you interested of buying a foreclosed home? Check out mortgage rates right now.

Additional steps in buying a foreclosed home

If you are in a hurry to buying a foreclosed home, these three steps above should suffice. But if you want to make sure your home buying process goes as smoothly as possible with no real surprises later on, continue on the following steps.

5. Compare prices

Before buying a foreclosed home, it’s always a good idea to compare prices of recent sales of similar foreclosed properties.

Again, your real estate agent can help you with that as well.

6. Get the right home loan

The number of home loans available to you can be mind-boggling.

However, LendingTree’s online platform has over 1500 home loans and can match you up to 5 mortgage lenders so you can choose the best mortgage rate.

So you should always do your due diligence to make sure you find a mortgage specific to your needs.

Not all loans are made equal. Rates and fees can vary from one mortgage lender to another.

So don’t make the mistake at looking at one lender only.

Use a free comparison website such as LendingTree to compare home loans side by side.

7. Inspect the property

Once you find the home and make an offer, make sure you hire an inspector to do a thorough inspection to determine the condition of the property and the overall cost of any repairs and renovations the property might need.

So even if you’re likely going to save money by buying a foreclosed home at below market, don’t try to save money by foregoing a physical inspection on the property.

No matter what the circumstances, always do an inspection.

8. Find a good lawyer

A lawyer should do all the legal work involved in buying a foreclosed home.

They will do a title search to see if the property has any liens, etc.

A lawyer can also guide your through the contract negotiation process.

9. Consider repair costs

Foreclosed homes are offered “as is.” So, you should expect some damage done to the house. Perhaps the previous owner was upset about losing their home and did real damage to the property.

And if they did not have the money to make their mortgage payments, it’s safe to assume they did not have any money to maintain the house.

It’s a good idea to also consider repair or renovation costs when buying a foreclosed home.

10. Consider other costs

In addition to the down payment and repair costs, closing costs, there are other costs involved in buying a foreclosed home. They include moving costs, maintenance costs, etc..

So make sure you consider these costs when making your budget.

In conclusion, property in foreclosures are properties where previous owners have failed to meet their loan requirements and the lenders take legal possession of the property. Although they can be risky, they are usually a better value than a traditional purchase.

So, if you’re a potential home buyer willing to do the due diligence to find rare opportunities, you can be significantly rewarded.

Click here to compare mortgage rates through LendingTree. It’s completely FREE.


Related Resources

Not All Mortgage Lenders Are Created Equally

When it comes to getting a mortgage, rates and fees vary. LendingTree allows you to view and compare multiple mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time, so you can choose the best rates for your needs. LendingTree makes getting a loan faster, simpler, and better. Get started today >>>


4 Mistakes Millennials Make When Buying a House

June 8, 2019 Posted By: growth-rapidly Tag: Buying a house

Many millennials start the home buying process without a real understanding of what it takes be a homeowner.

In fact many of them don’t even know the many upfront costs when buying a house — including coming up with a down payment, moving costs, closing costs, renovating costs, and so many others.

They think that if they have a sizable down payment and a stable job, the hard yards are over. Well, not quite…

Wondering how these mistakes can affect your overall financial plan? Talk to a local financial advisor.

That lack of knowledge can lead them to make costly mistakes, including paying thousands of dollars in loan interests, defaulting on their home loan, or going bankrupt. Here are some of the biggest mistakes millennials make when it comes to buying a house — and what can be done instead.

Check out: 5 Signs You’re Not Ready to Buy a House.

1. Not understanding the importance of a good credit score.

One of the most important things a mortgage lender looks at when deciding to pre-qualify or qualify you for a mortgage loan is your credit score.

Yet, many millennials don’t know the importance of maintaining a good credit score. Lacking that fundamental knowledge could cost them a lot. One is that you will have a hard to get qualified for a loan.

Second, even if a mortgage lender offers you a mortgage loan, you will likely get a high mortgage rate. A high mortgage rate can cost you thousands of dollars in interest – money that you could contribute towards your retirement savings.

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To avoid this mistakes when buying a house, millennials should first figure out their credit scores through a free monitoring service like MyFreeScoreNow. A good credit score is around 730.

Once you have an idea of what your credit score is through your credit report, take steps to improve it. One way to raise your credit score is not to max out your credit limit.

Maxing out your credit cards can hurt your credit score significantly. So keep your credit utilization rate under 30 percent.

Another way to improve your credit score is to pay your bills on time. Payment history accounts for 35% of your overall credit score. So it’s very important to pay your bills promptly.

Check out: How To Raise Your Credit Score to 850.

2. Not understanding how much down payment is enough.

A down payment on a house is the single most important factor when it comes to buying a house. Unless you are so wealthy that you can buy a house with outright cash, you will need to come up with a down payment.

The recommended down payment is 20% of the home purchase price. But many first time home buyers can be qualified for a FHA loan, where the down payment is 3.5%.

Feeling Overwhelmed With Your Finances?, You have options and there are steps you can take yourself. But if you feel you need a bit more guidance, simply speak with a financial advisor. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with fiduciary advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you are ready to meet your goals, get started with Smart Asset today.

However, the disadvantage of putting less than 20% is that you will have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). A PMI is extra fee added to your monthly mortgage payment.

Another disadvantage is that it will take you longer to pay off your mortgage. And your monthly mortgage payments will be much more.

One way to not have to worry about a PMI is to save for a 20% down payment before starting the home buying process. Saving for a down payment should not be that hard if you have a savings strategy in place.

See: What is a Typical Down Payment on a House?

Taking out a mortgage loan to purchase a house is the most expensive financial decisions you can ever make in your life. So it’s important to have the best mortgage rates possible so you don’t end up paying thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.

Yet, most millennials only speak with one lender when buying a home. That is a big mistake. When you speak with one lender, you don’t know what other mortgage rates are available to you. A good mortgage rate means less interests. So not speaking with multiple lenders is one of the mistakes to avoid when buying a house.

4. Not knowing other upfront costs associated with buying a house

You might think that just because you’ve found a home and you have been approved for a loan, that your hard work is over. Well, not quite. In addition to coming up with a down payment, there are several other upfront costs when buying a house.

There are inspection costs. Before you buy a house, it’s always a good idea to inspect the house for defects. In fact, it is mandatory. Lenders will simply not offer you a loan unless they have seen an inspection report.

There are loan application fees. Some lenders may charge you a fee for applying for a loan. This fee typically covers tings like credit check for your credit score or appraisal.

There are repair costs. Unless your house is perfect from the very first time you occupy it, you will need to do some repair. Depending on the condition of the house, repair or renovating costs can be quite significant.

There are moving costs. Depending on how far you’re moving and/or how much stuff you have, you may be up for some moving costs.

So avoid these mistakes when buying a house, and your home-buying experience should go as smoothly as possible.

10 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

How Much House Can I afford

5 Signs You’re Better Off Renting

7 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a House

How to Save for a House

Not All Mortgage Lenders Are Created Equally

When it comes to getting a mortgage, rates and fees vary. LendingTree allows you to view and compare multiple mortgage rates from multiple mortgage lenders all in one place and at the same time, so you can choose the best rates for your needs. LendingTree makes getting a loan faster, simpler, and better. Get started today >>>


Everything You Need to Know About Employer Relocation Packages

Moving for work? Make sure you know exactly how much help you can expect from your employer.

If your company has asked you to move to a new city or state for work, you’re not alone. Each year, nearly seven million people in the United States relocate because of their jobs.

Before you start packing boxes, it’s important to know what your employer will and won’t offer in terms of relocation assistance, and how that could affect both your move and your pocketbook.

Make no assumptions

Approximately 70 percent of U.S. companies offer relocation incentives for employees or new hires. If a relocation package isn’t discussed with your offer, you’ll need to start the conversation yourself. Ask for what you want, including all the services and compensation you’ll need for your move.

In 2012, companies spent an average of $19,303 to move a new hire renter and upward of $90,000 to move a current employee homeowner, according to the Worldwide ERC, the association for professionals who oversee employee transfers. Do your research to figure out what your move will cost, and make sure your relocation package is adequate. If it’s not, see if you can negotiate changes.

Ask about extras

No two companies offer the same relocation packages. Some will cover just the basics, while others will transfer vehicles, provide cultural training, help pay closing costs or mortgage points buy down, or even provide employment assistance for an accompanying spouse or partner.

If you’re a homeowner being asked to relocate, you’ll know you’ve hit the jackpot if your relocation package includes a Guaranteed Buy Out (GBO). With a GBO, the relocation company hires two independent appraisers prior to listing your home. If you’re unable to sell the property on your own within a certain time period, the company will buy your home for the average of the two appraisals.

Doing it yourself

If your company’s relocation package is of the barebones variety, you may want to explore your DIY alternatives.

Moving all your household items using your own vehicle is the least expensive do-it-yourself option, but it comes with risks. Without professional packing and moving services, you increase the chance of your belongings being damaged. This option can be physically and emotionally draining, plus it can take a toll on relationships with friends and family you’ve asked to help. This type of move works best if your new home is not far from your old one.

Another DIY option is renting a moving truck. A large-capacity truck is easier to load and unload than a car, and allows you to accomplish the task with fewer trips back and forth. In addition to the cost of renting the truck, you’ll need to buy gas to get the vehicle from one place to another, and you may be required to purchase additional insurance.

Self-service moving uses portable storage containers, and is a blend of DIY moving and professional moving. These services drop off large storage containers at your current residence. You pack and load the containers yourself, on your own timeline. When the containers are full, the moving company transports them to your new home or, if you’re not ready to move in just yet, they can take the containers to their warehouse, where they will store your belongings.

Tax implications

If your job requires you to relocate, your moving costs and the expense of traveling to your new location could be deductible if they meet certain IRS standards regarding distance and time worked after the move.

Payments made directly by your employer to your moving company do not need to be reported on your W-2 form. However, if your employer gives you a lump sum payment to cover moving expenses, that money is fully taxable as earnings. Depending on the program specifics, either you or your company must bear the associated tax cost of including these amounts in your wages.

Interpreting these tax laws can be complicated. Be sure to hold onto all your moving receipts and consult with your tax or legal advisor to ensure you stay on the right side of the IRS.

Ask questions, do your research and seek out professional advice to make sure your move is a good one.

Top photo from Shutterstock.


Originally published September 1, 2015.


How Much Rent Can I Afford to Pay Based on Income & Monthly Budget?

Before you can start looking for an apartment for rent, you first need to figure out how much rent you can afford per month.

Property managers and landlords compare your income to the rent before approving you, and each sets their own limit. But just because you meet their minimum income criteria doesn’t mean you can truly afford the rent.

As you start looking for the next place to hang your hat, start by putting your current income and budget under the microscope.

How Housing Fits Into Your Larger Budget

The moment in between the decision to move and starting your apartment search is the perfect time to overhaul your budget from scratch.

Before going any further, start by setting a target savings rate. Decide on what percentage of your income you want to put toward building wealth each month. Because the greater the gap between what you earn and what you spend, the faster you can build an emergency fund, pay off unsecured debts such as student loans, build wealth, and start generating passive income.

Set a savings rate, and subtract that immediately from your take-home pay. The remaining income serves as your operating budget — use it as the foundation for your new budget. Try this free template to create your budget in Google Sheets, and leave some wiggle room for discretionary spending.

Housing as a Percentage of Your Income

When creating a budget, most people set a limit on the percentage of their operating income that they’re willing to spend on housing. (I actually recommend an alternative approach; more on that shortly.)

For example, you might decide you’re willing to pay 25% of your operating budget toward rent. That falls in line with the average American household spending on housing, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports as 24.96% of gross income.

As a rule of thumb, many landlords set a maximum percentage of 33% of take-home pay. They disqualify any applicants who bring home less than three times the rent.

If your income fluctuates each month, budget based on your lowest typical monthly income, not your highest. Your income may vary but your rent doesn’t, and you need to afford it even in your worst month.

Still, everyone’s budget needs are unique, and you may be able to afford more or less than the typical household depending on your other expenses.

Zero-Sum Game: A Holistic Look at Budgeting

Budgeting is a zero-sum game: if you spend more in one area, it leaves you with less to spend elsewhere. Think of it as a pie that you can carve any way you like, but it remains a finite circle.

Which means that you can spend more on housing if you forego expenses in other areas. For instance, you might despair when you first research New York City rents, but as a New Yorker you probably don’t need a car. So you sell your car, eliminating not only your car payment but all car-related expenses including gas, maintenance, and your car insurance policy. That’s money you can then put toward rent if you so choose.

In budgeting as in life, you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. Spend more on rent in a city with high cost of living, and it leaves you with less for other expenses.

Reframe the Question to Spend Less on Housing

Why do people overspend on housing? Because they ask the wrong question.

When looking for a new home, people ask themselves “What’s the most I can afford to spend?” Then they go out and look at homes that cost that amount — the maximum they could possibly afford.

To spend less on housing and put more money toward building wealth, ask a better question. Ask yourself “What are my minimum housing needs to still be happy?” That pushes you to look at more affordable housing options, and to get more creative in how you pay for housing.

Creativity often pays off. I haven’t paid a cent for housing in nearly six years, and before that I still paid far less than my neighbors. I do it through house hacking: finding ways to have other people pay for my housing. You can bring in roommates, rent out part of your home on Airbnb, rent out storage space through services like SpareFoot, or even bring in a foreign exchange student — a tactic that covers 90% of my friend’s mortgage.

My wife and I house hack through her employer, who provides us with free furnished housing. For fun, check out these jobs that provide free housing, and approach your housing search with more creativity.

Beyond Rent: Other Housing Related Expenses

Your housing expenses don’t end at the rent.

As you plan out your budget, don’t forget the following expenses and how they impact how much rent you can afford.


When you look at any prospective home, find out which utilities are included with the rent, if any.

Because utility costs add up quickly. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars each month when you total your bills for:

  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Water and sewer
  • Internet
  • Home phone
  • Cable TV

Those last two make easy expenses to cut to save thousands each year. Just a thought.

Bear in mind that utility bills vary dramatically between homes. One home can easily cost you double or triple the gas, electricity, and water bills from another seemingly similar home due to energy efficiency differences or different energy pricing between municipalities.

Before moving into a home where you pay your own utility bills, ask for copies of past utility bills from each season to get a sense for the costs.

Municipal Fees

Some cities charge separate fees for trash pickup, recycling, and other basic public services on top of the taxes they already collect.

Double check if a municipality double charges fees on top of taxes before choosing a place to live.


Parking can be scarce in urban areas. Some landlords and buildings include parking; others don’t.

If you own a car and need parking, confirm the parking conditions at each rental unit you tour. You may find that it makes sense to pay slightly higher rent to secure an included parking spot, rather than paying separately for parking or spending 15 minutes looking for parking every evening.

Of course, street parking isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. Some urban neighborhoods offer plentiful street parking, while others are a perpetual nightmare. Ask around among people who actually live there to get a sense for the local parking conditions.

Amenity Access

Parking isn’t the only amenity that can add value despite higher rents. Some apartment complexes include valuable amenities like a community gym, pool, hot tub, and other conveniences.

These are amenities that you might pay separately for if not included in your rent. Before moving abroad, I paid around $100 a month to access a combined gym and pool. A friend of mine lived in a building that provided both, although he paid higher rent than I did.

Again, budgeting is a zero-sum game. Just be careful not to use amenities that you wouldn’t actually pay extra for as a justification for overspending on an apartment.

Renters Insurance

Although not expensive, renters insurance still stacks more housing-related expenses onto your budget.

Renters insurance covers all of your personal belongings, and many also cover other costs such as liability if your dog attacks a neighbor or moving expenses if you’re forced out of your home early due to fire or disaster. Look up renters insurance policy costs, and add it to your budget.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for renter’s insurance, check out Lemonade. It takes only 90 seconds to apply and policies start at just $5 per month. Learn more about Lemonade.

Furniture and Decor

If you move into a larger home, or move out of your parents’ house for the first time, prepare to spend some money on furniture, decorations, and other home goods.

Of course, you can buy furniture inexpensively and decorate your home without spending much either. Or you can spend an arm and a leg on brand new, upscale furniture and trendy decor.

I furnished my first townhouse entirely with used furniture I bought from people on Craigslist. If it didn’t look like a catalogue home, that’s because I knew nothing about interior design, not because you can’t find like-new furniture at a fraction of its original cost.

Whether you spend $300 or $3,000 furnishing an apartment depends entirely on you. But if you move into a larger home than you had before, expect to spend something.

Security Deposit

Although it’s another nonrecurring expense, you still need to come up with a security deposit before you can move into a new rental home. Landlords typically charge between one and one-and-a-half month’s rent for the security deposit, although some charge more for applicants with a lower credit score.

Moving Costs

You can’t pick up a full-size couch by yourself. And unless you drive a pickup truck, you probably can’t transport it yourself either. Even so, it would take dozens of trips in a pickup truck to move all the furniture that fits in an average house.

Whether you pay a moving company or simply rent a moving truck, you need to budget for moving costs. Even if you recruit friends and family to help you move, you should provide them with food and drinks as a gesture of gratitude. Which all costs money.

Ideas to Afford a “Reach” Home

Sometimes you just can’t help falling in love with a home that stretches your budget.

Although I don’t recommend spending an uncomfortably high portion of your income on housing, consider these ideas if you find yourself obsessed with a “reach” home.

1. Bring in a Housemate

Housemates pay their share of the rent of course, which could come to more than half if you offer them the most attractive bedroom or some other valuable commodity.

But beyond rent, housemates also slash some of your other housing costs. They split utility bills with you, potentially saving you hundreds each month. They might provide furniture, artwork, or home goods like cookware and silverware, relieving you of those costs. And they can split moving costs with you as well.

Housemates also teach you how to live harmoniously with others — a skill that comes in handy once you get married. It’s far easier to go from living with a housemate to living with a spouse than to suddenly have to start compromising and accommodating someone else’s habits.

2. Earn More Money

Yes, you can grow your savings rate by spending less. But you can also boost it by earning more.

You could do that any number of ways, such as negotiating a raise at work, or padding your resume with new certifications and getting a new job that pays better. Or you could build new income streams entirely by starting a side hustle.

Side hustles don’t have to be tedious either. You could start a business on the side of your job or turn your hobby into a paying gig. Some part-time jobs pay health benefits or other valuable perks, and many are downright fun.

Too many people just sit around and complain that they don’t earn enough. If you want to earn more, there’s nothing stopping you! You can also earn passive income that you don’t have to work for by investing money for passive income streams.

3. Negotiate Lower Rent

In every long-term rental I’ve ever lived in, I managed to negotiate a lower rent payment with the landlord.

No, you don’t need an advanced degree in negotiation. You just need to put yourself in the landlord’s shoes. Start by finding something the landlord wants more than money.

Remember that landlords aren’t the greedy Scrooges that the press makes them out to be. They’re people like you and me who saved up their pennies and invested them in rental properties rather than in the stock market or bonds.

Landlords want reliable tenants who will pay the rent on time, treat their property well and prevent damage, and get along well with the neighbors. Wiser and more experienced landlords also know the value of long-term tenants who stick around and don’t require them to go through another turnover any time soon.

Make a friendly, persuasive case why you’ll embody everything they want in a perfect tenant. I once worked out a deal with a landlord that I would pay the rent early, every single month, and that if I ever failed to pay the rent early, the rent would revert back up to its full price. But that’s merely one of many ways to negotiate lower rent with a landlord.

Final Word

It’s all too easy to overspend on housing.

Know your housing cost limits — including all expenses, not just rent — before you go house hunting. Better yet, get creative in looking for ways to score either free or reduced housing, or at least reframe your housing budget to focus on your lower limit rather than your upper limit.

If you find yourself struggling, don’t resort to paying your rent by credit card. Instead, look for other ways to trim your monthly expenses, such as saving money on groceries or cutting your cable television. But you’d be wise to avoid putting yourself in such a pinch in the first place.


How Much Does It Cost to Move?

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Making the decision to move can be exciting, whether you’re moving across town or across the country. And there’s one question pretty much everyone thinking about moving asks: How much will it cost to relocate?  

There are all kinds of moving expenses to keep in mind, including cost of living, balancing two mortgages (or a mortgage and rent) during the transition, and the cost of actually getting all your belongings from point A to point B. Here’s some information about average moving expenses to help you make sense of it all.

Estimating moving costs

Roughly half of all people who move use professional movers, whether they’re moving short or long distances.

These are average costs for moving, according to HomeAdvisor. Of course, prices vary by region and by distance.

Type of move Average charge Extra charges
Local/intrastate (under 100 miles, including 2 movers + truck) $80-$100 per hour + $25-$50 extra per additional mover
Interstate/cross-country (over 100 miles) $2,000-$5,000 per move + $0.50 per pound

How much does it cost to move across town?

Local moves make up the vast majority of people moving every year. According to Zillow research, 57% of home buyers who also sell a home move within the same city, and 86% move within the same state.

For local moves, you’ll typically pay an hourly rate that includes a truck and the services of two movers. The bigger your home, the longer your move will take. According to Zillow research, sellers pay an average of $475 to professional movers for local moves. 

Consider these estimates from HomeAdvisor. 

Size of house Estimated time of move Average price range
1-bedroom apartment 3-5 hours $200-$500
2-bedroom apartment 5-7 hours $400-$700
3-bedroom house 7-10 hours $560-$1,000
4-bedroom house 10+ hours $800-$2,000+

How far in advance should I book local movers?

Note that most people move between May and September, so you’ll want to book your movers at least four weeks ahead of time. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get the day and time that works best for you, and the more likely you are to get an experienced crew.

The least expensive days to move are Monday-Thursday. In the offseason (October-April), you can often book movers with only one to two weeks’ notice.

How much does it cost to move across the country?

Local movers typically charge by the hour, but for a cross-country move, you’ll likely be charged based on two key variables: weight and distance.


Before the move, the empty truck is weighed, and your mover should provide an “empty weight” receipt. Then, once all your belongings are loaded, they’ll weigh your truck again to determine your moving cost.

Have no idea how much your belongings weigh? Reputable movers will give you an estimate before you sign on the dotted line, using average weights for homes of your size (more on estimates later).

For example, the goods inside a 1,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom apartment typically weigh about 5,000 pounds. A 2,800-square-foot, 4-bedroom home’s furnishings typically weigh in at around 20,500 pounds.


Simply put, the farther a moving company has to transport your belongings, the higher the bill will be. You’ll likely be charged a per-mile rate in addition to the weight-based charges. Make sure to ask if there are any additional transportation charges, like fuel or tolls.

How far in advance should I book movers for a long-distance move?

For an interstate or cross-country move, you’ll want to book your movers as early as possible — ideally six to eight weeks before your move.

Movers loading moving truck

Moving costs vary depending on factors such as the number of belongings, the length of the move and the services provided.

Typical moving expenses

Whatever kind of move you’re planning, the moving expenses you’ll incur will vary based on the level of service you’re looking for:

  • Just a truck rental: In this scenario you’ll be doing the packing, loading, transportation, unloading and unpacking on your own with a rental truck. Flat per-day rates start at around $20 per day, depending on the size of the truck, plus charges for gas and mileage.
  • Loading, transportation and unloading: Save your back by doing all the packing and unpacking yourself, but have professional movers do the heavy lifting. For a local move, this service can range from $200 for a 1-bedroom apartment to $2,000+ for a 4-bedroom house.
  • Full-service moves: Leave everything to the pros, including wrapping and packing your belongings, loading them, transporting them to your new home and unloading. You’ll just be responsible for unpacking your belongings and getting settled. This type of move is usually used for long-distance moves. Expect to pay roughly $2,000 to $5,000 for the transportation, plus about $0.50 per pound, plus $25 to $50 per hour per mover for packing and unpacking help.
  • Temporary storage: If your moving dates don’t line up, you may have to temporarily stash your things in a storage unit or moving container. Storage facility rates start at about $50 per month for a small unit and go up to $300 or $400 for larger units. If you’d like the convenience of a portable storage unit that’s delivered to your home, loaded by you, and stored in a warehouse until you’re ready for re-delivery, expect to pay $150 to $300 per month, plus delivery and re-delivery costs.
  • Moving supplies: Instead of buying and then recycling boxes, you can go green and rent hard plastic boxes for your move. Prices start at about $50 per week for enough boxes to pack a 1-bedroom apartment and up to $200 to pack a large house. Once you’re done, the rental service will pick up the boxes. To save money on cardboard boxes, check your local “buy nothing” group or moving truck rental company, which often has used boxes on hand.  

Additional costs of moving

When calculating your relocation budget, keep these unexpected moving costs in mind:

  • A transportation surcharge if the moving company pays workers more for working in metropolitan areas where labor costs are often higher
  • Full value protection insurance (released value protection is typically included by movers at no cost, but the protection is minimal — just $0.60 per pound per article lost or damaged)
  • Charges for moving vehicles, including cars, boats and motorcycles
  • Surcharges for moving large or fragile items
  • Additional charges if the movers have to walk more than 75 feet from door to truck, or if they need to use stairs or an elevator
  • Additional charges if your street is too narrow to accommodate a moving truck and they’ll need to shuttle your belongings with a smaller truck
  • Unexpected moving costs if there’s a delay in the availability of your new home and the moving company has to put your items into storage

Moving cost agreements

Any reputable moving company should provide a quote using the industry-standard rate book published by the Household Goods Carrier Bureau, called the Tariff 400-N. There are two main types of moving quotes:

  • Non-binding estimates are the industry standard. They reflect the company’s best guess as to what your final bill will be, but they can often be inaccurate. Whenever possible, opt for a not-to-exceed quote.
  • Not-to-exceed estimates are quotes where the moving company commits to a maximum price.
Family unpacking belongings after moving

To avoid being surprised by high moving costs, ask your movers to provide a not-to-exceed estimate.

Get moving

When it comes to moving, the best way to limit your costs (and to keep your sanity) is to move quickly. The faster you’re out of your old home and into your new home, the less you’ll pay in movers, rented supplies, storage costs and — most importantly — overlapping mortgage payments or rent.

Looking to sell your house in a hurry? Check out Zillow Offersjust answer a few questions about your home, get a free home evaluation and receive a cash offer from Zillow in as little as one week, without ever listing.


Flat-Rate Movers vs. Hourly Movers: Which One Saves More Money?

Are you thinking of moving? As the customer, it makes sense for you to review each company and the prices. Flat-rate movers may sound like the best deal. You pay one moving rate, no matter what. But when hiring a moving company, you want to save money, right? Sometimes hiring the flat-rate movers can end up sending your moving costs through the roof.

It turns out that the whole hourly versus flat-rate moving question largely boils down to the size of your current home and the distance you’re traveling. Here’s how to weigh each moving company option and decide which one is right for you (the customer!)—plus measures to take to keep the price low and get the best offer in either case.

When to hire hourly movers

Here’s a sample scenario: If you’re moving across New York state to a new home or within the same New York City apartment building, this is considered a local move, and therefore the hourly option is better.

A price based on time, which can range from $100 to $150 for two or three movers, often starts with a minimum of three hours, plus an hour for travel. A two-bedroom apartment might take three to four hours to move; a three-bedroom house could take seven or eight.

If you’re worried about your moving costs spiraling out of control, ask the moving company whether it can cap the cost for customers at a certain amount, even if the time spills over.

When to hire a flat-rate moving company

A flat rate is exactly that—a number that’s determined after an in-home or virtual assessment by the moving company of the size of your space and the amount and type of furniture you own.

A flat rate is typically the right choice if you’re planning an interstate or cross-country move, or moving a greater distance, like to a new apartment a couple of hours away, since moving like this contains more unknowns. If your moving truck gets stuck in gridlock traffic, we doubt you’ll enjoy paying your movers an hourly rate for this added time.

But don’t be fooled: The flat-rate price or flat offer you get from a mover may not include all the costs associated with your move.

“In many cases, flat rates are not flat at all,” warns Manuela Irwin, a moving expert with Sometimes professional movers will charge unexpected fees for things you might assume are included (e.g., moving furniture up stairs or moving specialty items such as a pool table, piano, or bulky exercise equipment).

To avoid getting blindsided by hidden company fees or a surprise rate from your movers, it’s better to take the time and have an in-home estimate of your move. This way the movers can’t say that you hadn’t mentioned you have a piano when they saw it for themselves.

Also be sure to ask the movers or the customer service office if there are any extra fees if they end up moving certain items or providing extra services or spending more time (like unpacking your belongings, hauling away packing materials, or disassembling furniture). The more details you can provide about your move, the less likely it is that you’ll end up being surprised by unknown moving charges from the company.

To get an estimate of how much it will cost to move into your new place, check out this moving cost calculator, where you can punch in your number of bedrooms, beginning and ending ZIP codes, and move date.

Or use the phone number for your moving company and ask for a free quote. Ask movers about their fees for interstate and local moving so you end up with great service and a (relatively) stress-free move.


5 Terrible Mistakes People Make Moving During a Pandemic

So much can go wrong during a move. Add a coronavirus pandemic, and a lot more can go off the rails, and the consequences can extend far beyond a broken lampshade. They can affect your health.

Nonetheless, according to a survey conducted in late March by apartment listing site, 60% of renters planned to go ahead with their move, while just 9% are putting it off until the crisis is over.

“Not everyone gets the choice of when to move,” says Mike Glanz, founder of HireAHelper, an online moving services marketplace. “Predetermined corporate relocations and moves due to evictions or escrow closings are forcing some people to keep their move dates in place.”

Plus, transportation has been designated an essential service by the federal government, and that includes moving companies, according to the American Moving & Storage Association. Yet Glanz urges anyone planning to move soon to check with their state or city government to make sure no limitations or regulations exist preventing movers from operating.

And the truth is that moving can be done relatively safely right now, if you take some precautions. To help point you to the pitfalls, here are some common coronavirus-related moving mistakes to avoid.

1. Assuming a DIY move is safer than hiring help

Hiring movers can be pricey, costing between $600 and $1,700 for a move less than 100 miles away, according to HomeAdvisor. Add the possibility that movers might be sick, and it might seem safer and smarter to go the DIY route.

True, renting a truck and rounding up a few friends or family to help you move may be cheaper—but it won’t necessarily be safer. For one, your friends and family might just likely be as sick as the movers. And odds are, professional movers should have the training and equipment (including gloves and face masks) to move things as safely as possible.

If you’re determined to move your possessions yourself, make sure to take all the same precautions. If you rent a moving truck, you’ll have to spend time cleaning it. Ask local truck rental offices about their process for sanitizing vehicles between customers, Glanz says.

Bring your own sanitation supplies to clean and wipe down the steering wheel, door handles, and any other high-touch areas. Use gloves when driving the truck and while opening and closing the back door and loading ramp.

And since the novel coronavirus can survive on surfaces, “I would recommend disinfecting the walls and floors of the truck before loading your items,” adds Justin Carpenter, owner of Modern Maids, a housecleaning service in Dallas and Austin, TX, specializing in move-in and move-out cleaning.

2. Not vetting your movers

If you do hire movers, you should vet them thoroughly. Glanz suggests checking to make sure a company is licensed and insured, for starters, and also checking for wording on companies’ websites about their commitment to sanitation and safety.

“That tells you they are taking their responsibility to everybody’s safety seriously,” Glanz says. “If a moving company has a history of positive, active interaction with customers, they’ll shine even brighter under tough circumstances.”

Make sure the moving company you use is taking extra steps to ensure safety during the coronavirus outbreak, including providing virtual rather than in-home estimates and no-contact options, according to AMSA.

3. Using recycled boxes and packing supplies

The novel coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and steel for up to 72 hours, according to recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Using boxes and plastic bins that you already have on hand should be fine. But, if you need extra moving supplies, AMSA recommends purchasing new moving boxes and packing tape, and avoiding picking up free, recycled boxes from supermarkets and liquor stores.

Moving companies may also let you rent plastic bins, so be sure to wipe them down, inside and out, with disinfectant before packing your things.

4. Not prepping for your movers

Make sure you do what you can to pack and prep your boxes so they’re ready to go once the movers arrive. The reason: The less time spent moving your items means lower exposure risks.

“The faster a move can get done, the better and safer it is,” says Lior Rachmany, founder of Dumbo Moving and Storage in New York City.

This is also a decent argument to not DIY your move.

“The movers will do one straight transaction from point A to point B in less time than it takes the average person to do a DIY move,” Rachmany adds.

5. Moving in without deep cleaning first (and hiring help here, too)

Similar to hiring movers, hiring a professional cleaning service can be a cost-effective time saver, letting you focus on the move. A one-time housecleaning before moving into a new home averages $125 to $300, according to HomeAdvisor. And at a time like this, that may be money well-spent.

“A professional cleaning service already has years of experience cleaning hard-to-reach places or forgotten surfaces,” Glanz points out. “That comes in twice as handy now that it’s more important than ever to keep every touchable area cleaned.”

Before hiring a cleaning service, check online reviews and ask lots of questions.

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the products we use to clean and if we are taking any extra precautions,” Carpenter says. “Ask the company for recent references that have been served since shelter-in-place directives started rolling out. Call those customers and ask if they’d hire the service again.”

If you’re cleaning the place yourself, make sure to use products that actively disinfect and include ingredients such as sodium hypochlorite, ethanol, pine oil, hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, and quaternary ammonium compounds. And, don’t forget high-touch areas like doorknobs, light switches, faucets, and cabinet pulls.


Everything You Need to Know About Relocating With a Portable Moving Container

Portable moving and storage containers are growing in popularity as a convenient way to move. Instead of loading boxes and furniture into a moving truck, many people are opting to pack all their items in a portable moving container and ship it to their new home. With moving being as stressful as it is, a portable moving container can help relieve some of the anxiety.

The beauty of portable moving containers is their versatility. In a traditional move, you’re on a tight schedule; but if you choose to rent a portable container, you can pack it at your own convenience and take as long as you need.

“If you’re presented with a scenario where your lease is ending before your next place is ready, moving containers are an ingenious solution,” says Mike Glanz, co-founder and CEO of Oceanside, CA–based HireAHelper, which also has a Move Helpers division that loads and unloads moving trucks and containers.

“Many moving container companies offer multiple sizes and terms to their boxes, so this moving option is likely to fit your personal move,” he says. And, since most companies will transport the containers for you, Glanz says the experience is quite similar to a full-service move, especially if you also hire movers.

How to rent a moving container

You need to find companies that serve the locations you’re moving to and from.

Glanz says the American Moving & Storage Association can help you find a ProMover, aka a certified moving company that has passed a background check and agrees to uphold the organization’s code of ethics. Glanz recommends looking at major companies that serve your area, but also checking to see if a smaller competitor is available for a better price.

When choosing a company, he says, you need to figure out what’s important to you, be it moving dates, the sturdiness of the boxes, prices, discounts, user reviews, or something else. Individual company profiles are also on the site, and Glanz says that info is based on reported invoices and reviews from people who have used the companies.

After you decide what you want, you can book online or by phone.

The process of using a portable storage container goes a little like this: You book the container, it gets dropped off to you to fill, and then the container is taken to the location of your choice. But there are a few additional wrinkles.

“You need to make sure your drop-off and pick-up locations are cleared with your street, homeowners association, or the city, depending on where you live,” Glanz says.

How much do portable moving containers cost?

The price you’ll pay for a container is based on a number of factors, including the size of the container, the distance you need it shipped, and how long you’ll be renting it. Do your homework and reach out to a number of portable moving container companies for quotes based on your specific needs.

But to give you a frame of reference, the cost of renting a portable container from PODS, a moving storage company that rents and ships containers, is usually between $299 and $499. According to PODS, a long-distance move averages $1,237 to $2,999 and includes a month of storage.

Tips for packing a moving container

Believe it or not, there’s a right way to pack a portable container that will ensure your belongings will still be in good shape when you unpack them. The first step is to distribute the weight evenly.

“It’s tempting to place all of your heavy things in the unit first, but spread out the furniture, appliances, and other large items in the container so all the weight isn’t on one side, says Nathan Chandler, CEO of Zippy Shell Louisiana, a moving and storage company in New Orleans. “Use fabric pads for wooden furniture that could easily get scratched, and make sure to place boxes with fragile items on top of heavier, more durable objects.”

You should also put your important items in the front of the storage container.

“When moving, it’s easy to focus only on getting your things out of your old house and not on what you’ll do when you arrive at your new home,” Chandler says. But you’ll want to have access to your essential items like plates, mattresses, linens, and clothes first.

And when it comes to family heirlooms and important documents, he says it’s best to keep them with you, if possible.

“Although portable storage containers are secure and durable, there’s always a chance that something could get damaged,” Chandler says. “These objects are safer with you during your move.”