How to build you budget for your new home

Building a new home for you and your family requires a lot of discipline especially when it comes to finances. Taking the time to manage your money better can really pay off. It can help you stay on top of your obligations and even save thousands of dollars each year.

However, if you still consider yourself a beginner when it comes to managing your finances, you need are going to need help. Here are some pro tips on how to manage your budget well so that you won’t have to waste your hard-earned money.

couple working on filances

What’s the Point of Budgeting?

Before everything else, what is the point of having a budget anyway?

A budget done correctly is the most precise tool for analyzing your finances imaginable. It answers two key questions: first, do I spend more than I earn? The second is what can I afford to spend?

finance work

An instinctive assessment is easy – if you’re eating up your savings or building up debts, you’re likely to be overspending. Before you can solve any financial hurdle, it is important to get an accurate idea of the size and scale of the problem.

As Charles Dickens said in Mr. Micawber, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result – happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds six, result – misery.” Major overspending can lead to a debt spiral and severe problems.

This is why the Budget Planners are all designed to definitively answer this problem and give you a real assessment of your finances.

Once you know where you’re spending, you can start to alter and prioritize what you do with your money to enable you to stick within your means. While the budget planners include tools to enable you to work out how to prioritize within your means, the real difficulty is sticking to it.

How to set up a budget

The first step into proper money management is setting-up a budget. It will take a little effort, but it’s a great way to get a quick snapshot of the money you have coming in and going out.

Setting up a budget means that you will less likely end up in debt and less likely to get caught up by unexpected costs. You want yourself to be inclined to have a good credit rating and be more likely to be accepted for a mortgage or a loan. With all of these, you want to be able to spot areas where you can save, so that you will be in a great position to save up for other funds allotment like a holiday getaway, a new car, or another fine dining treat for you and your family.

family matters

To get started on your budget, you’ll need to work out how much you spend on household bills, living costs, financial products, family and friends, travel, leisure, and other essential stuff. List all of them. At this point, it is best for you to take advantage of technological advancements right now and use applications that can help you with your planning.

You can keep track of your finances by using accounting software. If you want a professional accounting approach to your budget management, you go for bookkeeping software like that of Xero Software. This kind of software allows you to use ledgers, books, and other tools of bookkeeping to keep track of your finances. You can also use pre-made applications such as Budget Planner that focuses most especially on allowing you to set-up your budget.

Getting your budget back on track

If you’re spending more than you have coming in, you need to work out where you can cut back. This could be as easy as making your lunch at home, or cancelling a gym membership you don’t use.

finance problems

You could also keep a spending diary and keep a note of everything you or your family buys in a month. If you do most of your spending with a bank card, have a look at last month’s bank statement and work out where your money is going.

It is also important to get your whole family involved because it is of outmost importance that all of you work together to follow the projected budget. Sit down together and make a plan that you can all stick to. Work out how much spending money is available and agree between you what you’ll each have.

Setting a savings goal

Some people find it hard to get motivated about saving, but it’s often much easier if you set a goal. Your critical move is to have some emergency savings – money to fall back on if you have an emergency, such as a boiler breakdown or if you can’t work for a while.

family at computer

Try to get three months’ worth of expenses in an easy or instant access account. Don’t worry if you can’t save this straight away, but keep it as a target to aim for. The best way to save money is to pay some money into a savings account every month.

Once you’ve set aside your emergency fund, it would now be the best time put your focus on savings for your main goal of getting your new home. You might be tempted to take that holiday or get that car you have always wanted. You might get easily distracted at this point. This is why your goal should always be checked and reinforced on you. This is the best time to put your energy in keeping your eyes on the prize.

Applications that can help

Aside from the ones mentioned above, here are other applications that can help keep track of your finances and investments.

Personal Capital

One of the most comprehensive apps for tracking all of your financial activities, Personal Capital makes it easy to monitor and track your net worth. You can link multiple investment accounts separately and have easy access to your portfolio performance and investment allocations on your mobile device or desktop. You can also make use of the Investment Checkup tool, which will map out your target allocation and make recommendations. If you like to be very hands-on with your portfolio management activities, this may be the best tracking tool for you.


Senthil Kumar, vice president of marketing at Oracle Financial Services, says that “digital technologies have transformed the way people can track investments.” Kumar calls out Ellevest, one of the newest players in the financial-tech industry designed for women interested in investing, as an example of online platforms changing the way people are managing their money.

Ellevest provides a personalized portfolio based on your age and zip code, gives you the option to customize your plan based on your goals and allows you to fund your plan and set up contributions online – all the things a financial adviser would do. You can get access to tracking tools and get updates and alerts if you start falling short of your goals. If you don’t like the idea of setting up face-to-face meetings with a financial adviser, the tools available through Ellevest could make it easier to track your investments and also learn about investing in the process.


If you like to review graphs and reports on your own rather than relying solely on recommendations or suggestions from a software program, try Ticker to see detailed, real-time data about the value of your accounts, profits and losses and other important details. You can set up push notification alerts based on different “triggers,” including price changes, volume changes and certain percentage thresholds based on your goals. The app also makes it easy to review the real-time market value of your accounts in a few screen swipes. Use the app to compare portfolio performance metrics side by side.

The Art of Negotiation: How To Make It Big In Real Estate

More often than not, real estate transactions boil down to negotiation.

Sellers won’t give the lowest price any more than the highest paying buyers are willing to pay. If you’re a buyer and you want to get your dream house in Hollywood, you’ll need to negotiate. If you’re a seller and you want to sell your property in Texas, you’ll need to negotiate. Negotiation is part of a creative process, and here’s why:

Professionals negotiating.

Negotiation is an Art.

It is generally wrong to pose an aggressive posture in any of your interactions with real estate agents, be it as a buyer or a seller. Contrary to popular belief of “you should be in a commanding position”, you actually should be easy to get along with and easy to talk to.

Then again, you should never forget that you are in that meeting or in that open house for one reason: to find the best way to address your real estate needs. This means that while you are negotiating the deal, every piece of information that you provide to the other side (to the buyer if you’re the seller, and vice versa) should be carefully released at just the right time, spoken in just the right way and designed to improve your position in the transaction.

Arguing over the asking price.

The “art of negotiation” is not just a simple isolated exchange between two parties, but rather a continuing effort. You must remember every action that you take during the entire transaction, beginning with submittal of offer to close escrow. Many real estate transactions where the buyer or seller got past the “offer and acceptance” phase and then acted like the deal was done, only to find themselves not having a deal because of cold feet.

As the saying goes, it ‘ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Thus, don’t give up your position too early: don’t make unnecessary concessions, and don’t compromise without gain.

Don’t be clumsy. You might insult the other party.

This is perhaps the main reason why many negotiations fail. There is an art to creating an offer to buy a home at the best price, and it’s not just about being the cheapest or tuning out to be the most affordable. It’s about the manner in which the transaction is handled.

Most people understand that if you walk up to a person selling their home and you bring a rather condescending tone on how they do business, the chances are that the seller will actually look at your offer as pretty low.

This is because you have put the seller into a “compromised position.” You have forced the seller’s sense of pride to overrule their desire to sell the home to you. Once you have put the seller in this position, it is difficult to correct it. Very few buyers are able to correct the mistake of insulting the seller. Pride is a really big deal.

On the other hand, insulting the buyer is just a mortal sin. There’s no way you can make up for a hurting buyer. You may well have botched your chance of selling a house, and may just end your career if the word spreads about your professional misdemeanor.

A mental arm wrestle.

As such, most people understand the obvious concept, but people often don’t realize how many different ways they can put either a seller or buyer into this defensive position. For example, buyers take the approach of including a defect-list in their offer which highlights every undesirable feature in the property, doing so to support a low offer.

At the end of the day, this is the same thing as saying “your house is undesirable and here is why”. The seller is insulted and either discards the offer, or counters at a higher price than they might have if they were not insulted.

Low-Ball offers don’t work.

A crazy low-ball offer is another common way to insult the seller. For most real estate buyers who are serious about finding a home that truly meets their needs, low-balling is a mistake. Buyers spend a lot of time searching for the right home, even before they look for a realtor. Once they find a great home and start writing an offer, their priority now shifts from “finding the dream house” to “winning this negotiation and get the house below fair value”.

More often than not, you won’t find “below market value” and “perfect home” in the same transaction. This is simply because its whole concept defies logic: how many times have you shopped for a product and have been willing to pay a premium for a particular product because it has all the features you highly desire?

The point is that just attempting this tactic often kills the deal, and the buyer usually ends up at square-one when the day ends. You’ll just waste a lot of time, or probably throw away a chance at your dream home. Stay focused on your true goals and negotiate realistically.

With this is mind, you can finally sell your Houston house for cash like you’ve always wanted.

Real estate tug of war.

Negotiate with Information, not Opinion.

Subjective price negotiation is a common scenario in almost every real estate transaction. Though it comes as a normal case, the challenge is to put your foot down on the best price that is justified by market comparables, yet giving an offer that is presented in such a way that it does not insult the seller.

Use the local market data to prepare and then support your offer: this is by far the most effective tool in price negotiations. Showing a seller market data is way more persuasive than simply saying, “I just feel like you are over-priced”. You can make your negotiation argument stronger by not basing on feelings alone, but rather using the real data that you can get your hands on.

Coming to a financial agreement.

Another reason market data helps is because many real estate agents barely know how to perform a market analysis. Simply put, they don’t really know what the property is worth, nor have property properly appraised. If the buyer-agent produces data that supports their client’s offer, many times the seller’s agent is swayed by the data and recommend that their client accepts the offer.

Meanwhile, this also holds true for the seller. If you can show the facts and the mathematics behind the numbers you are presenting as the best deal for the house (be it cheaper, or simply the right price for the right home), you can easily persuade the buyer to tender to your realtor service.

Structure the offer in a way that it will be accepted.

A good buyer’s agent coaches their clients about the best ways to position themselves and their offer to increase the likelihood of the seller’s acceptance. The saying “first impressions last” fits perfectly in this case.

This is also true for a strong buyer’s market; because if you want to pay the lowest price for a piece of property, you then have to be sure that all the other components to your offer, other than price, are as attractive as possible.

This includes a conditional loan-approval from a reputable lender, timeframe for close of escrow, use of qualified inspectors, amount and type of earnest deposit, contingencies and how they are structured, comparative analysis of the property, and the professionalism and attention to detail in the offer.

A financial compromise.

Remember that while price is very important to the seller, there are other aspects to consider in a deal. For instance, the seller only wants to go through the escrow process one single time to not waste any, so if all the components of your offer must say “I can close”, your lower-price offer may be preferable to a higher offer that says “I am not so sure this is the right house and I may be a pain and NOT close escrow”.

All things considered, real estate is all about proper communication. To master real estate, you should also master the art of negotiation to have the most success.

3 Essentials In Finding Your Dream Home

The reality of today is that there are an enormous amount of factors that contribute to people moving from one place to another. Factors such as being able to have more job opportunities in a different place, family preferences, and overall security can bring about thoughts of moving to a new place or even migrating.

A beautiful modern house.

Thus, it is important that you look deeper on the factors to watch out for when scouting for a better home.

The thing is that there are various facets to consider to find the perfect place to live. This is important so that you can establish your life in a new property with ease. However, there are a great number of facts to consider, so many that confusion sometimes arises in this regard. It is just important that you take time to look at what really matters most. Prioritizing these factors may just get the job done for you.

C Is For Comfort

What comfort does the new home you’re looking at provide? A seemingly obvious fact is that people will always look for a place that brings about a sense of comfort and relaxation. With good reasons, considering that you are actually going home to this property every day!

A happy family.

There is nothing wrong with being thrifty and finding the cheapest possible purchase of a new house. However, you shouldn’t compromise the comfort of a new home. Besides, it is exactly why you call it YOUR home. At the end of the day, you might just realize that as much as you saved your money, you are not satisfied. This may end up with you finding a new and better place all over again, which is likely to exhaust you, and exactly why you should consider comfort first.

Comfort can be achieved in a plethora of ways. If you are fond of the serenity and tranquillity, then you may consider purchasing a house that is in a suburban area. You may even find yourself a place that is surrounded by a lush environment. On the other hand, if you’re a person who is involved in the hustle and bustle of life, then you may find some place in the city that provides the right amount of space and efficiency to work and saves you commuting time.

On another note, one thing that may bring about your dream lifestyle is security. The sad truth is that the world is evolving to be a dangerous place for all kinds of people; it is significant that you find a home that provides a sense of safety for you and for your family. Finding a neighborhood which implements proper security measures should be of utmost importance. Security brings about a sense of comfort, and comfort brings about the true meaning of living.

Brother and sister

A Is For Affordability

Imagine you need to move to New York for a job that you finally got and had always wanted. Sadly, you have to sell your Houston house fast to get your initial funds to afford a place in the Big Apple. If you got more than enough for the sale, it is your lucky day! However, when the returns seem to be a little less than what you expected, affordability becomes a huge consideration when trying to buy a new house.

You have to take into account the money you have right now in order to effectively scout for a new house or apartment. This is because of the simple fact that you can’t be in a place that forces you to surrender all your assets. Proper budgeting and estimation may just save you from the hassle it brings in the long run.

Similarly, money plays a huge factor on how you enjoy or thrive in the new surroundings. Since at the start of your move, there will be other expenditures such as purchasing of furniture, house equipment, and other basic necessities to satiate your lifestyle. In the business side of things, you may have other fees that may add to your financial stresses like business permits, equipment, and machinery essentials in your field of work and taxes.

Expensive houses lead to no cash.

Truth be told, moving is not an easy thing to do. It is as if you need all the calculators in the world just to run keep track of things. Whether you have the right amount funds or not, affordability still plays a major aspect in a lot of things, yet it is especially important to be considered in the field of real estate.

P Is For Preferences

You always have to follow your heart, especially when you are trying to buy a new home. A key factor on living the best way and finding a perfect home is that it suits you and your personality.

A lavish mansion.

The analogy is pretty simple. If you think a house’s rooms are stacked and lack space, then you might just find yourself constricted. Find a house that satiates your eyes and lets you breathe. If you think a home’s ceiling is too low, then you may just realize that you’re planted and can’t go any higher.

Buy a home that lets you get up in the morning with no problem, and you can feel the sense of accomplishment with the newest purchase

You have to be satisfied in the home you are prospecting to buy. It is YOUR home anyway. With a sense of having to follow your preferences comes the feeling of being truly at home. If you want a house that is child friendly, then you must purchase a house that has room for a child to grow and thrive. If you are an enthusiast for food, then you might want a place in the house to fill the equipment you need in your kitchen, or rather, a large kitchen.

The list goes on and on with regard to satisfying what you want for your home. What better way to do that than make your house a representation of you? Trusting your intuition is the right thing to do. This is also important in trying to find the best house that says ‘this is the one.’

Moving from one place to another is a part of life that everyone needs to face sooner or later. Since there are a lot of factors you must consider in moving, it becomes almost confusing and mind-boggling. This is why you should look at the most important ones which ultimately sum up the factors that need to be looked at.

It is significant that you consider comfort from your potential home. If you find yourself comfortable in a house, also try considering security and safety. Doing so can help you feel as protected as possible, and that’s important.

Then again, you always have to look out for the affordability of the place. If you have the right amount of money, then you should just go for it. If you don’t, there are always the other ones which give you the same comfort factor. After all, you should follow your preferences.

It is important that you contemplate your wants and needs in your home. Make your place a symbol of prosperity, comfort and security. You may just find yourself living in perfect harmony if you pay close attention to these things.

7 Marketing Strategies for Real Estate Agents

Selling real estate has always been a very competitive business. Agents have created numerous strategies to sell houses, hotels, condos, and apartments. However, most of the time, they aren’t very effective. It could be that the buyers are conservative, or it could be that there are real estate agents who are too aggressive for their own good.

Then again, you don’t need to make a huge step – such as spending a lot of money in a TV advertisement – just to sell property. Perhaps you’re just not doing the small things that really matter to your clients. Clients are humans, just as you are, and they have quite the understandable psyche when it comes to choosing their future homes.

A cutout home.

Nowadays, clients prefer going to social media and browsing listing websites first to look for their needs before they go to open houses. They go to these measures to be more knowledgeable on the market because buying a house is an enormous financial step – for anyone. Clients don’t outright post things like “we buy Houston houses”; they want you to be the cowboy that brings them safely to their Texan dreamland.

To make the sale, it is imperative to understand your clientele, and to understand the marketing strategies that will ultimately help you sell that property.

1. Make Yourself Social Media-Accessible 

If you’re not on social media right now, the general consensus is that you’re a nobody. A few real estate agents are starting to build up their social media profiles, and you should too. Make sure you have social media accounts on all the main channels; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and especially Instagram – to showcase all the beautiful homes you’re trying to flip.

Interact with users, share good press, and promote your properties.

The agent's guide to social media.

Social media greatly helps in building a good reputation when it comes to accessibility: clients and potential buyers will definitely choose a real estate agent who can easily be contacted through social. It’s a testament to how “in-touch” you are, which can boost your reputation tremendously.

Also, if you can provide a good way to entice the customers (perhaps by making good snaps of your houses through Instagram, interior shots in Pinterest, or maybe a 360-degree video of the house through Facebook), you can easily attract more clients.

2. Paint Pictures

Here’s the thing: you’re not just selling a house, you’re selling a residence; a home; a safe, loving place. With the concept of residence, you should understand that the house is situated in a greater area or a flourishing town. It would be very helpful in attracting buyers if you can paint the picture of the general area on where your houses are.

Maybe it is deep into the concrete jungle of New York. If so, paint the picture of your house sitting comfortably amidst the busy streets, showing accessibility to most workplaces. Take pictures of lush sceneries around the place you’re trying to flip.

Snap pictures and post on social media and you can entice customers who look at the bigger picture before buying their own home.

3. Hire A Photographer

Much like any other commercial product, real estate can be sold with good first impressions. Successful real estate relies heavily on great photography, and that’s the truth. Bad photos will diminish interest in even the greatest of properties.

It’s absolutely vital that you have attractive photos of your properties. Hire a professional photographer (preferably with experience photographing homes and architecture), or, if you have sophisticated equipment and are confident in your abilities, have your own hand at it. Just remember that this is one of those times when it pays to bring in a professional.

Photographers, or artists in general, understand the psychology of pictures: the right angle to choose, the correct color scheme, or the best lighting time to take pictures. Because of their expertise, they can attract buyers to tender your real estate service. This tip also goes well with having social media set-up and can help in painting the picture that you want to show to potential clients.

4. Create A Killer Website

Aside from social media, people are looking at websites first before they go to open houses. As a rule of thumb, if you have a disorganized website (or no website at all), there is a big chance that they won’t trust you. So if you need to hire a web developer, do so because it could mean the difference between a huge sale or another missed opportunity.

Get a website!

Today’s consumers prefer to start their legwork online when making major purchases and that does not exclude purchasing real estate. This is where they look up vital information about the possible houses they would buy – like where it is located, how near it is to key places, how much it is, and much more.

Make it easy for users to access all this information – get all your property pages up with great photos, virtual tours and descriptions, and easy access to Google Maps and Google Earth for added convenience.

5. Start a Nurture Campaign

Nurture campaigns are like the breadcrumb paths that Hansel and Gretel followed, except that instead of an evil house at the end, your clients find their dream home.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses on marketing and communication efforts by listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.

Your real estate agent has the keys to your next home.

Basically, what you want to do is to leave your clients a trail of quality breadcrumbs (that they should see subconsciously) by tinkering your interactions with them based on previous actions that they’ve taken.

It works like this: if they first attended an open house with you, send them an email about other nearby houses on the market. While you’re with them, try to know what their likes and dislikes are. In this way, you can lead them into some of your other houses available for selling.

Another example is if they attended your first time homebuyer’s seminar, send them your “10 Things Every New Homebuyer Should Know” eBook if you have one. This could lead them to a conclusion that your services are better (but do not make false advertising!). Deliver content that will help your clients take the appropriate next step, depending on where they are in their journey to finding their dream home.

6. Create A Newsletter

Email marketing is one of the best strategies for building client relationships. It costs less for you, and it is an easy-access guide for your clients.

Collect emails from your website, local outreach, or any other methods you can think of. Add them into the mix your nature campaign strategies, and your email marketing is ready to take on more clients. Also, make sure that you send your subscribers informative emails that they might be looking for, such as notices about upcoming open houses, new houses on the market, news about seminars you’re offering in the area, etc.

7. Establish Sponsorships

Consider helping sponsor local festivals, sports teams, or school events. You can also create mini events that can help you promote your brand and service. In this way, you can build a trusting relationship to your potential clients.

According to Naomi Marks of Marketing Donut, small firms can get good publicity and create valuable goodwill by sponsoring a local team, event or good cause – and it doesn’t have to break the bank. This marketing strategy is cheaper than most marketing strategies, and is still very effective.