Buying a House Sight Unseen? Avoid These 8 Mistakes – Redfin

April 28, 2020 January 27, 2021 by Mekaila Oaks

Updated on January 27th, 2021

From grocery shopping to home buying, it seems like almost everything can be done completely online now. The idea of buying a house without seeing it is less daunting these days with all the new technologies and ways to buy a home virtually, and it’s becoming more common. In fact, 45% of recently surveyed homebuyers said they made a bid on a home without first seeing it in person, compared to 28% in 2019.

Maybe you’re currently living in a condo in Chicago, but have to relocate to a new home in Austin, TX for work. Or, maybe your family is growing and you’re in a time-crunch to move into a bigger house with a yard. Whatever the reason may be, you’re likely going to be buying a home in the near future without seeing it first in person. And while it may seem risky, don’t worry. A completely remote homebuying process can still go just as smooth as it would in person, as long as you avoid these common mistakes made when buying a house sight unseen.

tan one story home with palm tree

tan one story home with palm tree

1. Using the first real estate agent you meet

While you might be in a time-crunch or just want to make a quick, competitive offer, you should still take the time to find the right real estate agent for you. Since you won’t be seeing the home in person, it’s important you find an agent that you trust, and knows the market and the area you’re buying in like the back of their hand. 

Start by reading online reviews of real estate agents in the city you’re looking to buy, and then interview your top picks. Ask a variety of questions to determine if they’ll be a good fit for you, such as asking how many sales they’ve handled in your target neighborhoods. 

2. Skipping out on a virtual tour

Seeing is believing, especially when it comes to buying a home. That’s why you shouldn’t make an offer on a home based on just those wonderful listing photos that initially caught your eye. Even if you love what you see, don’t make the mistake of not taking a virtual tour of the listing — photos can only show you so much. 

If the listing has a 3D virtual walkthrough tour, you can easily see every nook and cranny of the home as if you were touring it in person. This is a great tool to use as you’re house hunting to help narrow down your top choices. However, to make sure you’re not submitting an offer unaware of the creaky floors or the lingering pet odor, it’s important to schedule a live video-chat tour with your agent. Even though you can’t be there in person, they can. And they’ll be able to answer those questions that listing photos alone cannot. 

Condo patio with red chairs with a city view

Condo patio with red chairs with a city view

3. Forgetting to ask things that you’d normally see for yourself

When you’re house hunting in person, you’re able to use all of your senses. You can see the wonderful natural light coming into the living room, you can hear the noisy garage door, and you can smell the pet odors that are still lingering throughout the home. But when you’re buying a house without seeing it, you’re limited to only what is shown digitally. 

Before you virtually tour the home with your agent, write out a list of as many questions or concerns you’d normally be able to see or check out for yourself. Be sure to include some of these questions during the video tour

  • What can you smell in and outside the house? Maybe there’s a paper mill nearby. 
  • What can you hear from the house? There could be a hospital close by or train tracks behind the home.
  • Do any appliances or features look outdated? The cabinets might’ve looked brand new because of a fresh coat of paint, but need to be replaced in the near future.
  • What is the internet and cell-phone service like? There could be a few carriers that don’t offer good coverage in that neighborhood. 
  • Is there anything that stands out to you as a concern that wasn’t shown in the listing photos or 3D walkthrough?

If you’re moving to a home further out from the city and suburbs, consider asking what the wildlife situation is like or if the nearby river has ever caused flooding. Or, if you’re moving into a bustling downtown area, ask how the traffic is or what the public transportation options are like.

Aerial view of a home palm trees

Aerial view of a home palm trees

4. Not researching the neighborhood and surrounding area

Whether it’s because they’re excited for the house they’ve found, or they need to relocate as soon as possible, people often forget to look into the neighborhood and its surroundings. For example, the last thing you want is to move your family across Dallas for a great school, and then discover later on that your new house isn’t actually in the school district’s boundaries; or move into a new-construction home without realizing it’s far away from your must-have community amenities. If you’re moving to a neighborhood you’re already familiar with then this isn’t a big concern. However, for most people buying a house sight unseen, it’s likely that you’re not as familiar with the area.

Do your due diligence and use Google Maps to virtually walk through the neighborhood to see what the surrounding homes look like and what’s nearby. If your agent is up for it, see if they can take you on a video tour around the block. There could be new construction underway or other potential concerns that you aren’t able to see for yourself on Google Maps. Also consider joining online community groups, such as those on Facebook or Nextdoor, to gain local insights into the specific neighborhoods and communities from those actually living there.

5. Not vetting a high-quality home inspector

Whether you’re buying a house sight unseen or not, a home inspection is a crucial step in the homebuying process. It’s even more important to have this extra set of eyes from a professional when you aren’t able to see the home in person. Just as it was important to vet out your real estate agent, the same goes for choosing a home inspector. Don’t make the mistake of just hiring the first one you stumble across online. Be sure you do your research to find a reputable, qualified home inspector in the area of your new home.

6. Forgoing additional inspections

You’ll want to have a general home inspection to cover your grounds and make sure you’re aware of any problems with the home. For most, a general inspection is sufficient. However, depending on the age of the home or if there are outside structures and features, like a pool, there are some additional inspections you shouldn’t forgo. For example, if the home was built before 1980 (and in some cases, after that) you should consider having it checked for asbestos. Rather than showing up to your new home with unexpected surprises and issues, take the time to have it thoroughly inspected.

7. Waiving contingencies 

If you’re thinking of waiving contingencies in hopes to beat out other buyers and score the home, you should think twice about that decision. If it’s a seller’s market and you want the offer to be competitive and enticing, maybe you can get by with waiving some less risky contingencies like an early move-in. However, it can be a huge gamble and mistake to waive higher-risk contingencies, like a home inspection contingency or financing contingency. To protect yourself in an already tricky situation, be wary of waiving certain contingencies. 

8. Expecting the process to go according to plan

A common mistake in any homebuying process is expecting it to go exactly as planned. Add in buying a house sight unseen and you’ll likely find yourself navigating the process differently. It’s important to set a realistic timeline with a buffer in case there are any hiccups along the way. For example, there’s a chance that the loan-approval process could take longer than expected or that the needed repairs to the home you made an offer on are going to take a few weeks longer. 

Having a realistic expectation and planning for a few bumps along the way will help you feel at ease in case anything does stray away from the plan. Prepare all of your documents well in advance so you have all the needed information for the loan approval process. Confirm if you’re able to have a fully digital closing rather than needing to be there in person, and periodically check in with your agent to see if there’s anything needed on your end to keep the process going smoothly.

Source: redfin.com

Love Decluttering, Hate Craigslist? 4 Far Easier Ways to Sell Your Stuff

Decluttering is a constant battle—and if you’re downsizing to smaller digs, it can be an all-out war. One way many people make the process less painful is by selling their castoffs—because parting with old possessions doesn’t feel half as bad with a cash kickback, right?

There’s just one problem: Many find the old standby of hawking their wares on Craigslist to be more of a pain than it’s worth. Plus, the act of having to invite random strangers into your home can feel kind of creepy—and if those randos want to haggle, the headache really isn’t worth it.

But you’re in luck! Plenty of apps have filled the void by making the process of selling your possessions much easier—often with a better payoff to boot. So whether you’re lightening your load before a move, downsizing to a smaller space, or just decluttering, here’s how to sell the items topping your get-it-outta-here list.

1. Trove

Best for selling: Furniture

Think of Trove as a virtual consignment shop for furniture. Sign up through your Facebook or Google account, and answer a series of questions before your item is listed: title and description, price (and if you’re willing to negotiate), type of payment accepted, where you’re located, and when you’re available for the buyer to pick up the item. You’ll also need to upload at least one photo—the more, the better. If you check the box for negotiating, you receive notifications of all offers, and then you can accept the one you like best based on price, mutual connections, and the buyer’s reviews.

Any downsides? Similar to Craigslist, an in-person meeting and inspection are required to complete the transaction. A helpful tip: Never let a buyer leave with your item until the transaction has been marked as approved in the app—that’s how you’ll get paid if the buyer has chosen a debit or credit payment. Listing is free, and although Trove takes a 10% fee from credit card transactions, it doesn’t charge for other payment methods (e.g., PayPal).

2. Decluttr

Best for selling: Tech

Want to sell your old cellphones, DVDs, CDs, and video games you have lying around without the hassle of finding a buyer yourself? Download the free Decluttr app, use your phone’s camera to scan the bar code, and you’ll get an instant selling price. The app has a Tech Price Promise, which guarantees you the first price it offers—or you get your item back for free.

Any downsides? You do have to actually pack your item(s) into a box and mail it to Decluttr. But hey, it provides a free shipping label, and once your box arrives at the warehouse, the Decluttr team checks the item(s), then sends payment through direct deposit, PayPal, or check (or donates it to charity upon your request).

3. ThredUp

Best for selling: Old clothes

Rather than hauling all your unwanted or ill-fitting clothes and accessories to a local consignment store, you can create an account at ThredUp and request a “kit.” In a nutshell: ThredUp sends you a giant, polka-dot plastic bag, which you can fill up with women’s and children’s clothing, shoes, handbags, fashion jewelry, or other accessories. (Menswear is not yet accepted, but check the site for updates on the items that are in demand.) Ship the filled bag for free by dropping it at any U.S. Postal Service or FedEx location, and once your bag is processed, you’ll earn cash or credit in your account for the items that are accepted.

Any downsides? There’s one caveat: Any items that aren’t accepted will be donated (i.e., you won’t get them back). But honestly, do you really want them back?

4. 5miles

Best for selling: Anything locally

Described as Craigslist meets Nextdoor (a private social network for neighborhoods), the 5miles app has 14 million buyers across the United States, yet it focuses on the ones in your immediate area. It’s safer to use than Craigslist, though, with features such as online payment, shipping options for people who don’t want to meet, and a tool to locate nearby police stations where you can do in-person transactions. The app also prides itself on a 24/7 “Awesome Experience” customer service team to help with issues.

Nice plus: Prefer the old-fashioned method of decluttering, aka garage or yard sales? You can list your sale in a special section of the app, where buyers can search for sales in their area and come check out your goods in person. It’s way more effective than newspaper classifieds.

Any downsides? While there’s a category on 5miles for just about anything you might want to sell before a move, keep in mind that you may not sell everything. Top sellers include furniture, household wares, electronics, and sports/outdoor items. While it’s free for both buyers and sellers, there is a fee on some automotive listings, in case that’s on your to-sell list.

Source: realtor.com

21 Side Hustles for Teachers In and Out of the Classroom

Educators are the ones that ignite a love of learning inside each of us and help mold us for future success in life. They’re essential to student growth, invaluable in their communities, work countless hours preparing lessons, and care for their students. Despite all of their dedication and responsibility, it’s a well-known fact that educators are often underpaid, and many turn to side hustles to make ends meet. 

If you’re a teacher looking for a way to supplement your income, there are many part-time opportunities that can fit your schedule and skillset. Whether you’re looking for work through the summer, or an extra gig for nights and weekends, we’ve put together this complete guide of side hustles for teachers. 

Jobs to Keep You Teaching

Jobs Online and On Apps

Jobs to Get You Outside

DIY Work From Home 

Jobs to Keep You Teaching

Educating others is part of who you are. If you’re interested in a fulfilling side hustle that will allow you to continue teaching, these jobs may work great for you. 

Illustration of a teacher at her desk with the stat that 12% of a teacher's yearly income comes from a summer job.

1. Tutoring

Tutoring is an excellent option to keep teaching while earning extra cash. You can focus your tutoring by age or subject, or narrow your focus for high school SAT and ACT prep. Tutoring naturally falls in your free time after school, and can be done in groups, one-on-one, or online.

  • Pay: Private tutors earn an average $17.53 an hour, though it varies widely by experience and specialty.
  • Get started: Register online to become a tutor through sites like TutorMe, Tutor.com, and VaristyTutor, or set your own price and let parents at your school know you’re available.

2. Standardized Test Administrator

While test administrator requirements will vary across states and school districts, it’s needed everywhere there are schools. Administrators ensure that all testing procedures are followed, that no test materials are taken from the site, and that all tests are collected and submitted securely for grading. As schooling moves online, there are also plenty of opportunities to proctor exams from home. 

  • Pay: Test administrators earn between $32,500 and $43,500 on average for full-time work, and can earn as little as $24,000 a year.
  • Get started: Find your state testing service’s site to learn more and apply to become a test administrator. You can also apply to become a proctor with online proctoring companies like ProctorU.

3. Teach English Abroad 

Do you dream of traveling the world? Teaching abroad during the summer months is a great way to strengthen your skills as a teacher and experience other cultures. There are great options for short-term teaching jobs abroad, or you can teach foreign classrooms from home.  

  • Pay: This varies by region, but reaches as high as $5,000 a month. Keep in mind that some gigs cover room and board, while others require you to budget your own living costs.

4. Adjunct Community College Professor 

More people are opting for community college to save on tuition, and there’s an increased demand for teachers in these programs. While some colleges may require a Master’s degree for employment, others only require a Bachelor’s and relevant teaching experience. Becoming an adjunct professor or teacher at a community college is a great way to continue teaching and change lives in a meaningful way. 

  • Pay: Adjunct faculty make a median of $2,700 per three-credit-hour course, though this varies between institutions and experience.
  • Get started: Check out the education requirements at your local colleges to see where your experience would be accepted. Then, decide what you want to teach, meet with a few other professors, and apply. 

5. Babysitting or Nannying 

Parents are always looking for someone responsible to watch after their little ones, and who better to trust than a teacher? Babysitting and other forms of childcare on nights and weekends is a flexible option that allows you to continue spending time with children while earning some under-the-table cash. 

  • Pay: Pay varies significantly by experience and location, so use this babysitting rate calculator to determine a fair price for your services.
  • Get started: Contact families you know for a smooth start to babysitting, or use sites like Care.com to match with families. You’ll likely need a background check to find nanny gigs online. 

Jobs Online and On Apps

Most Profitable Side Hustle Apps

85% of gig workers make under $500 each month

Company Average Monthly Earnings
1. Airbnb >$924
2. TaskRabbit $380
3. Lyft $377
4. Uber $364
5. DoorDash $229
Source: Earnest

Earning a supplemental income is in the palm of your hands. Some of your favorite apps that you likely use on a regular basis offer opportunities for side hustles, and there are many ways to earn money online too. 

6. Drive for a Rideshare Service

Rideshare services are hugely popular side hustles with plenty of flexibility and the opportunity to earn quick cash. While you can make quite a bit of money working peak hours, you should also consider the costs of car maintenance, insurance, cleaning, and gas. 

  • Pay: Drivers can make upwards of $20 an hour, though it’s not consistent. Gridwise provides pay averages for major cities as well as other costs you should consider.
  • Get started: The first step is to download the app of your choice, then collect and submit the company’s required information. For example, Lyft requires:
    • At least one year of licensed driving experience
    • Pass both a DMV and criminal background check
    • Have your car inspected by a licensed mechanic
    • Drive an approved vehicle model

7. Delivery Services

If you’re not comfortable driving strangers, then you may want to consider delivery or shopping services instead. You can choose to deliver packages for companies like Amazon Flex, or deliver food and groceries as people need them. 

  • Pay: The average worker makes around $200 a month, though it’s heavily dependent on tips, location, and company.
  • Get started: Decide what you want to deliver, then choose the app that works best for you.

8. Rent Out Your Extra Space 

If you have a spare room or apartment, you can rent it out for long- or short-term stays through services like Airbnb. This process is extra simple as you just have to set the dates and keep a clean and desirable place to stay. Just make sure you have updated insurance to cover any potential damages. 

Airbnb has over 7 million listings worldwide and has served over 750 million guests.

Even if you don’t have a room or home to rent, you can rent out parking spaces, lawns, swimming pools, and more. 

  • Pay: Airbnb hosts can make an average of $924 a month — the highest income of all gig economy services.
  • Get started: Register your space for free after deciding your rates, rules, and available hours. You can also check out these other sharing gigs to consider:

9. Virtual Assistant 

While a virtual assistant (VA) likely has some level of administrative work to do, they offer a number of different services including customer support, human resources, bookkeeping, and more. Most VAs are required to have experience in some type of administrative role. 

  • Pay: Virtual assistants make an average $15.77 an hour, but the pay can reach $27 an hour depending on experience and job needs.
  • Get started: A virtual assistant is their own boss, so you’ll want to follow some of the basic steps to building a business. Checkout Dollarspout’s guide to get started. 

10. Online Surveys

Online surveys may not be the most lucrative side hustle, but the money can add up. They’re convenient, quick, easy, and there are plenty of platforms to use online and on your phone. It’s a good option if you’re just looking for a little extra spending money. 

  • Pay: Each survey pays anywhere from $.10–$3, and there’s usually a minimum earned amount to reach before you can cash out. 

Jobs to Get You Outside

Sometimes you just need a breath of fresh air. Try these side hustles to get outside and moving all year long.

Illustrated dog walker with the stat that U.S. dog owners spend $1,380 a year on basic expenses.

11. Dog Walking 

Dog walking is a great option to spend time with man’s best friend and a good way to get some exercise into your routine. While it may be tough to find a dog-walking job during the school year, as most families want walkers during the day, you can enjoy your summers with a furry friend getting fresh air. 

  • Pay: Hourly rates start at $15, but your location will affect prices. If you walk dogs for another company then you’ll have to pay them a cut, too.
  • Get started: Reach out to friends and neighbors to work independently, or join a service like Wag or Rover.

12. Tour Guide

If you live in a historic city or neighborhood, there may be an opportunity for you to offer walking tours of your area to summertime visitors. It’s a great opportunity to look at your city through a new lens and teach others about the area you love. Plus, being a guide will allow you to practice your public speaking skills, and you can use your knowledge of the area for future lesson plans! 

  • Pay: Tour guides make anywhere from $10–$20 an hour with an average of $24,343 a year base pay.
  • Get started: Jump right in as a peer-to-peer guide with Tours by Locals and Shiroube, or reach out to local organizations and attractions to see who’s hiring.

13. Summer Camp Counselor 

Relive your childhood memories of playgrounds, arts and crafts, and water balloon fights, not to mention spend all day in the gorgeous summer sun. You’ll be accustomed to the responsibility that comes with watching children all day, and you can let loose and have fun as a camp counselor.

  • Pay: Day camp counselors earn an average $10 an hour, and managers can make up to $20. Overnight camps pay a couple dollars more at an average of $13.
  • Get started: Local church, YMCA, and Parks and Recreation organizations often host summer and school break camps. You can also search other cities and overnight camps for a more unique camp experience.

14. Lifeguard

There’s nothing better than spending the summer in the sun, and lifeguarding is a great way to do that while protecting others. The American Red Cross offers lifeguard and water safety courses year-round, which will help you earn the necessary certifications and skills for the job.

  • Pay: Lifeguards earn an average of $12 an hour, though job experience may earn you a boost.
  • Get started: Once you complete your lifeguard training, you can apply to be a lifeguard at local pools, beaches, or even your school.

15. Coaching Local Youth Sports

If you were a competitive athlete or just love fitness, you may be able to make money as a youth sports coach. You’ll make the most as a private coach or by starting your own business. This way you can set your price and schedule, but it will be a lot of work in the beginning. 

  • Pay: You can set your own price, but most coaches earn around $14 an hour.
  • Get started: Start with coach training, then reach out to local organizations and meet other coaches in your area for opportunities and recommendations.

16. Lawn and Garden Care

Have a green thumb? You could earn some extra money in the summer months by going old-school and offering to mow lawns and tend to gardens. 

  • Pay: Landscapers earn around $14 on average with the opportunity to earn up to $20 an hour.
  • Get started: If you have your own equipment, advertise to your neighbors through Nextdoor and Facebook groups. Or you can work part-time for an established company.

DIY Hustles From Home

Starting a DIY business from home is a great way to unwind, manage your own schedule, and get creative with your part-time job.

Illustrated shopping cart with the stat that home and living (25%) and art and collectibles (21%) are the most popular Etsy shopping categories.

17. Flip Furniture

Reduce, reuse, and recycle old or neglected furniture to make something beautiful. People pay top dollar for refurbished finds and vintage treasures, and you can feel great saving items from landfills.

  • Pay: Your profit depends 100 percent on the value of the pieces you flip and you’ll learn to determine estimated profits as you go.
  • Get started: Determine what you can flip with the tools you have and start searching online marketplaces, thrifts, and yard sales to find great deals. Then, refurbish your finds and sell in all the same places. 

18. Sell Your Crafts

If you have a craft you love, consider monetizing it. Everything from cross stitch patterns to polymer clay earrings are sellable, and many are easy to pick up. The trick is finding a popular market and making something unique. So if you see resin and glitter earrings are popular, consider making new shapes with dried flowers instead. 

  • Pay: This entirely depends on your product and advertising. Check out similar stores on Etsy to get an idea for product pricing.
  • Get started: Research what’s selling and come up with your own twist! Perfect the product, then launch through an online service like Redbubble, or sell independently at markets and on social media. 

19. Farm for Cash

If you have the space and a green thumb, then consider selling food for cash. Garden vegetables and herbs can sell well on their own, or you can use them to make homemade sauces and salsas. Other products like eggs, honey, and flowers are also popular farmers market staples you can produce at home. Plus, your side hustle can double as a biology lesson.

  • Pay: Your product affects your price, but startup costs for selling at the market and purchasing basic booth needs are under $500.
  • Get started: Once you choose a product, plant it and get your business plan and certifications nailed down while they grow!

20. Begin Blogging

Blogging is a form of infopreneurship where you share your knowledge, build a professional reputation, and earn money. As a teacher, you can sell your lessons and resources, or write an e-book on effective classroom management. If you want a break from the classroom, share your experiences with gardening, business, or family instead. Once you build an audience, you can earn money through advertising or by selling your expertise as a speaker or writer. 

  • Pay: Bloggers earn an average $33,428 a year, but many make closer to $20,000.
  • Get started: Plan your blog topics and study up on how to market your blog, then get started writing. WordPress is a go-to for websites, but you can start out on simpler systems like Wix

21. Sell Stock Photos

If you dabble in photography, consider posting your photos on stock photo sites. You can make quite a bit from high-quality and desirable photos, but it’s becoming highly competitive. If you’re new to photography, then you may not make a lot, but if you’re already shooting then you might as well try to earn some money as you learn the basics. 

  • Pay: Stock photography can range from $.10–$80 a photo, and some sites charge you to post on them.
  • Get started: Start taking pictures that aren’t just pretty, but offer a story and context to them. Read up on royalties, then post your photos on sites like Alamy and Shutterstock

Many teachers and educators see side hustles or part-time work as a necessity to supplement their income. On the bright side, there are so many options these days that teachers can choose what works best for their schedule or lifestyle. Once you have a side hustle plan, set some savings goals and learn to budget your extra cash appropriately to get you there. 

Sources: Fortunly | Earnest | NEA | Statista 

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