Carol George - RE/MAX On The Move Seacoast Real Estate Exeter Raymond Epping


If you are in hot pursuit of your dream home, it is important to do everything you can to gain a leg up on the competition. That way, you can acquire your ideal residence as quickly as possible.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you gain a competitive advantage over your homebuying rivals.

1. Keep Track of the Local Housing Market

The top houses sell immediately, and as such, you may need to act fast to find and purchase your dream residence. If you keep track of the local housing market, however, you will be better equipped than other buyers to instantly acquire a house that suits you perfectly.

Monitor the housing market in cities and towns where you want to reside. Then, if you find a house you may want to buy, don't hesitate to set up a showing. And if you like what you see, you should submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Entering the housing market with pre-approval for a mortgage usually is a good idea. Because if you know how much you can spend on a residence, you can tailor your house search accordingly.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. Find out what mortgage options are available, and learn how different types of home financing work. Next, you can select a mortgage that enables you to begin your house search with a budget in hand.

Of course, if you have any concerns or questions about home financing, you should address them right away. If you speak with mortgage specialists at a bank or credit union, you can get the insights you need to make an informed mortgage selection.

3. Employ a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker, particularly for a homebuyer who is shopping for a residence in a fierce housing market. Typically, a real estate agent will work with a buyer to craft an in-depth property buying strategy. A real estate agent and homebuyer then will work together to put this plan into action and streamline the property buying journey.

In addition, a real estate agent offers guidance at each stage of the homebuying cycle. He or she first will help you hone your home search to a select group of cities and towns. A real estate agent next will keep you informed about houses that become available that match your homebuying criteria. If you find a house you want to purchase, a real estate agent will help you submit an aggressive property buying proposal. And if your offer to buy a home is accepted, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to finalize your house purchase.

As you get ready to pursue your dream residence, you should devote plenty of time and resources to prepare. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can prep for the homebuying journey, gain a competitive advantage over rival buyers and accelerate your house search.


The US government has been helping Americans achieve their goal of homeownership for decades. Through programs offered by the Federal Housing Authority, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, millions of Americans have been able to afford a home who would have otherwise struggled.

The focus of today’s post is one such service: loans offered through the USDA Rural Development program.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but are worried about being able to save up enough for a down payment or build your credit score in time, USDA loans could be a viable option.

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people have about USDA loans:

Do I have to live in the middle of nowhere to get a USDA loan?

The short answer is “no.” rural development loan eligibility for your area is laid out on a map provided by the USDA. Most of the suburbs outside of major cities, as well as nearly all rural areas, are covered by the rural development program.

Can I qualify for a USDA loan if I’ve previously owned a home?

Yes. You may be eligible for a loan as long as you’re not the current owner of a home that was purchased through the rural development program. So, for example, if you own a home financed through the USDA and wanted to buy a second home and rent out the first one, you wouldn’t be able to finance your second home through the USDA.

How does the USDA loan guarantee work?

When you buy a home, a lender asks you to make a down payment. If you don’t have a down payment, the government (USDA, VA, or FHA) insures the down payment on your home rather than you paying it up front.

Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?

Unlike other subsidized loans, rural development loans require a “guarantee fee” rather than PMI (private mortgage insurance). The guarantee fee is 1% the total mortgage amount and this can typically be financed into the loan (so you don’t have to pay up front). In addition to the guarantee fee, USDA loans also charge an annual premium for the lifetime of a loan.

What are the qualifications for a USDA loan?

To find full eligibility information, complete the survey on the USDA’s eligibility website to find out if you qualify. However, the general qualifications are:

  • U.S. citizenship

  • Buying a home in a qualifying area

  • 24 months of income history

  • A credit score of 640 or higher for streamlined processing

  • Income high enough so that your monthly payments do not exceed 29% of your monthly earnings

What is the direct loan program?

The USDA really offers multiple urban development loans. The guarantee program, for which most single families utilize, and the direct loan program. Direct loans are designed for families who have the greatest need. You can also find out if you’re eligible for a direct loan by filling out the questionnaire on their website.




As a homebuyer, it is paramount to establish realistic expectations for the homebuying journey. That way, you can take a step-by-step approach to achieve various goals along this journey and acquire your ideal residence faster than ever before.

Setting realistic homebuying expectations can be simple. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you set realistic homebuying expectations.

1. Assess Your Home Must-Haves and Wants

Dozens of homes are available in cities and towns nationwide. If you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you may be better equipped than others to determine exactly what you want to find in your dream house. As a result, you could reap the benefits of a quick, seamless homebuying experience.

Oftentimes, it helps to create a list of home must-haves and wants prior to searching for a house. This list can be updated as you proceed along the homebuying journey and will serve as a guide to help you discover your ideal residence.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

With a mortgage in hand, you can narrow your home search to residences that fall within your price range. Then, you can speed up the homebuying journey and find your ideal residence in no time at all.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions generally offer a broad array of mortgage options. Examine all of your mortgage options closely, and you're sure to find a mortgage that matches your finances.

Also, don't hesitate to ask mortgage questions when you meet with potential lenders. Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to help you in any way they can. Thus, you can gain expert insights from these mortgage specialists that could help you make an informed mortgage decision.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent understands what it takes to purchase a home in any housing market. Therefore, he or she can help you prepare for the real estate market and establish realistic homebuying expectations from day one.

Typically, a real estate agent first will learn about your homebuying goals. He or she then will help you map out a successful homebuying journey, one that concludes with you discovering your dream house at a budget-friendly price.

A real estate agent offers plenty of support at each stage of the homebuying journey too. This housing market professional will set up home showings, keep you updated about new residences that become available and help you evaluate houses. And if you want to submit an offer on a home, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to put together a competitive homebuying proposal.

Achieving the optimal results during the homebuying journey sometimes can be difficult. But if you establish realistic homebuying expectations, you may be able to streamline the homebuying journey and ensure that you can purchase a great house that suits you perfectly.


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

So, you're buying a home remotely. Because you probably don't want to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a house that smells like cats or that features weekly invasions by the SWAT team of the building next door, it's important to find a long-distance realtor you can trust. You need someone who excels at the remote-home-buying experience and who will represent you faithfully. Agents like these are out there, but it may take a bit of work to find them. Here's what we recommend.

Choose a Certified Residential Specialist

A certified residential specialist is a real estate agent who has undergone additional training and who has more experience than other agents. Only about 3 percent of all realtors in the United States have attained CRS status. You can find a CRS locally by using the online search function available at the Residential Real Estate Council.

To become a certified residential specialist, an agent must meet strict minimum requirements, including:

  • Completion of between 25 and 150 successful real estate transactions.
  • Completion of between 16 and 80 additional hours of training and education in realty.
  • Adherence to a higher code of ethics than the average realtor. 

While millions of hard-working real estate agents exist, only a small number have gone that extra mile to earn CRS certification. These are the agents you should trust to handle your transaction when you can't be there in person. 

Choose an Expert Communicator

Choose a realtor who's an expert in your desired area and with whom you feel comfortable from the first conversation. The relationship between you and your remote-home-buying partner should feature excellent communication. He or she needs to understand your needs precisely, including your must-haves, your budget, your time frame, and what you're hoping to find in a neighborhood. If you're bringing along three small dogs, your mother-in-law, or two moody teenagers, your long-distance realtor needs to make sure there's sufficient space for everyone included. 

Find a REALTOR® Who Cares

The REALTOR®you choose should be an expert on local schools. He should be able to get back to you with crime rates and economics. Additionally, he should be present at home inspections to ensure your future home doesn't have a termite infestation or a sketchy, outdated septic system. Everything from water pressure to the condition of outdoor fencing matters. These are all things you would investigate when viewing a home in person. If it's important to you, it should be important to the realtor you choose. 

Seventy-eight percent of all home buyers value the quality of a neighborhood over the size of a home, and 57 percent would rather have a shorter work commute than a sprawling yard. It's statistics like these that can make or break your remote-home-buying experience. It's vital to partner with the best agent for the job. 


If you intend to purchase a great house at a budget-friendly price, you should craft a homebuying timeline. That way, you can decide the best ways to achieve your homebuying goals.

Ultimately, creating a homebuying timeline can be simple – here are three tips to ensure you can develop a successful homebuying timeline.

1. Know When You Want to Move

For those who want to buy a house, it helps to consider your current living situation. By doing so, you can determine the necessary steps to relocate from your current address and acquire your dream residence.

If you presently own a house, you may need to sell it before you purchase a new home. Or, if you currently rent, you may need to give your landlord sufficient notice prior to your relocation. But if you consider the aforementioned factors closely, you can set a deadline for your move.

With a deadline in place, you can start your dream home pursuit. And once you find this residence, you can submit an offer and proceed with a home purchase.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

If you want to develop a successful homebuying timeline, it generally is a good idea to consider your financial situation as well. Because if you lack the necessary home financing, you are unlikely to be able to acquire a wonderful house any time soon.

As you develop your homebuying timeline, you may want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about a wide range of mortgage options and help you get the financing that you need to buy your dream house.

Furthermore, you should check your credit score when you craft your homebuying timeline. If your credit score is low, you may need to improve it prior to buying a house. Thankfully, you can account for this factor as you map out your homebuying strategy and plan accordingly.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

Developing a homebuying timeline may prove to be challenging. Luckily, real estate agents are available who can help you take the guesswork out of purchasing a house.

A real estate agent can teach you the ins and outs of buying a home. As a result, this housing market professional will enable you to enjoy a quick, seamless homebuying experience.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent can make it easy to acquire a terrific house on your timeline. This means if you want to purchase a top-notch house as quickly as possible, a real estate agent will do everything possible to make your homeownership dream come true. Comparatively, if you want to take a slow, gradual approach to buying a house, a real estate agent is ready to respond to your homebuying needs.

When it comes to buying a house, it helps to have a timeline in place prior to starting a house search. Fortunately, if you use the aforementioned tips, you can streamline the process of establishing a successful homebuying timeline.




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