7 Best Things About Buying A House In The Fall


For the first time in recent history, October surpassed June as the most popular month to get married. And these autumn-loving brides may be on to something: Although the spring months are notoriously the best time to buy real estate (as well as have a wedding), fall may be the new ideal season to buy a home.


One obvious reason is that it’s easier to get from open house to open house without questioning if you’ll need an AC repair ASAP upon moving into that home for sale in Phoenix, AZ. Also, families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture. Besides these two more obvious reasons, here are seven expert insights on why you should consider a fall real estate purchase.

1. There’s less competition

Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale — and in some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. “[Fall] means new inventory and re positioned old inventory that did not sell in the prime season,” says Wesley Stanton, a New York, NY, agent with The Stanton Hoch Team.

This puts you in a great position to negotiate. “Fall home buyers should consider [making] lowball offers, followed by more aggressive negotiation,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. Davis points out that many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays. If possible, buyers should let these sellers know that they can close before Thanksgiving or before the school winter break.

2. Sellers are worn-out

Some sellers who put their homes on the market during the prime selling times of spring and summer might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months of no action, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. “Sellers who were unrealistic earlier in the year about price will now be more willing to reduce the price come fall,” says Thomas Miller, a Washington, DC, real estate agent. “Because there [are fewer buyers] and because the sellers are now eager to sell, they are more inclined to take the low offer than wait another six months for spring to come around.”
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3. Sellers are serious

Not all homes on the market in fall are summer leftovers. Some people need to sell in the fall because the timing is right. Maybe they were having a home built, and it’s now ready. Maybe they need to move because of a job. “The sellers with houses on the market in the fall tend to be serious,” says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal management company in Brooklyn, NY. “That means sellers could be more open to negotiating and accepting a lower offer.”

4. You can take advantage of tax breaks

First-time home buyers, take note: Although you can’t escape paying income tax, you can make a dent in what you owe when you become a homeowner. “Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year’s worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December,” says David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert. “Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year.”

5. Fall is a safer time of year

Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, says Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com. “July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place,” she says. “Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood.” You’ll be settled in your home and can take precautions — like setting up that new alarm system — before the next burglary season rolls around. Note: Check Trulia’s local maps with the crime filter before you buy.

6. You’re the center of attention

Because spring and summer are ideal times to buy a home, real estate agents are usually busier then. And that could mean you might not always get the attention you want. This is also true for other professionals you’re working with to buy a house. “Service providers, such as mortgage lenders and title companies, are moving out of the summertime sales swamp and can often respond more quickly,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Orlando, FL.

The same goes for movers. “Because summer is the peak moving season, people often experience more delays and service issues, such as moving companies reaching capacity and running out of trucks to pick up shipments,” says Jack Griffin, president and chief operating officer of Atlas World Group. “The probability of experiencing a delay goes way down in the fall season.”

7. You can take advantage of end-of-year sales to outfit your home

There are bound to be improvements you’ll want to make after buying a house. You’ll also probably need to buy items to maintain your home, and if appliances weren’t part of the deal, you’ll need those too. Wouldn’t it be great to coordinate your home purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, the calendar determines when it’s a good time to buy all sorts of consumer goods. In particular, September is a great time for buying carpet and paint. October means lawn mowers go on sale, and appliances and cookware are cheaper in November.

Did you buy your home in the fall? Would you recommend buying in the fall real estate market? Let us know in the comments.

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How To Become A Millionaire Through Real Estate (Really)


Real estate can make you a millionaire.

Sure, this might sound like the promise of a late-night television salesperson trying to get you to attend the latest “free seminar,” but the reality exists: real estate is a powerful wealth building tool that has made millions of individuals millionaires.

Could you be next?

Maybe – but here’s the catch: not everyone who buys a piece of property becomes rich. In fact- many people buy real estate only to find stress and empty bank accounts. They struggle for years and years but never build the kind of wealth they’ve dreamed of (or the riches promised by the late night TV guru.)

So – how does someone use real estate to truly become a millionaire?

As I discussed recently in the longest article I’ve ever written, How to Become a Millionaire, there are four primary “wealth generators” at play when you invest in real estate, depending on the strategy you get into:

Cash Flow. This is the extra income you’ll get to keep each month (or year) that you own the property. Cash flow can be deceptive because it fluctuates when certain repairs are higher or lower in different months, so it’s important to factor in non-monthly costs like vacancy (the amount of time the property sits vacant), repairs, capital expenditures (expensive projects that need to be replaced on a home every so often, like appliances, roofs, windows, plumbing, etc.), along with the regular expenses (utilities, management, etc.).
Appreciation. When the value of a property increases, we call this “appreciation.” While appreciation is not always guaranteed (just ask people who bought in 2006 and sold in 2010!), over time, historically, real estate has always increased in America, averaging 3% per year over the past century. Another type of appreciation that can come into play is known as “forced appreciation,” the concept of increasing the value by physically improving the property.

Loan Pay-down.  When you buy a property with a mortgage, each month your loan balance decreases. This means, over time, your tenant is essentially paying the loan down for you, helping you build wealth automatically. To make this concept clearer, pretend for a moment you owned a property that you bought for $1,000,000 with a mortgage for $800,000, and it made $0 in cash flow (it “broke even”) and never climbed in value. However, after that thirty-year mortgage is paid off, you’ll now have a property worth $1,000,000 that you didn’t actual save for. Your tenant paid it off due to the “loan pay-down.”

Tax Benefits. The final wealth generator from real estate are the tax benefits associated with owning property in the United States. The U.S. government likes real estate investors and uses the tax system to encourage our purchase and leasing of properties. From extra tax write-offs to the lack of “self-employment tax” to the 1031-exchange and more, real estate investors can pay significantly less tax than other business owners, using the extra cash to buy more properties or pay of the loan faster — helping to build greater wealth.

Of course, just buying some real estate will not give you all of the above benefits. Different strategies in real estate will give you different benefits. For example, when you “fix and flip houses,” you are most likely not paying off a loan, thus you will not get the benefit of the “loan pay-down” nor are you getting cash flow or many tax benefits. Instead, flipping relies mostly on the “forced appreciation” you get by fixing it up.
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One of the reasons I love buying rental properties so much is because they may capitalize on all four of the wealth generators — if you buy it right. Let’s use a quick example:

Jenny wants to build wealth through rental properties. So Jenny finds a duplex for $250,000 in her neighborhood. After running a careful analysis, she determines that it is a good deal. Jenny uses a $50,000 down payment and obtains a 30-year loan for $200,000. Combined, both units bring in $3,000 per month, but Jenny’s expenses average just $2,500 per month, leaving her with $500 per month in cash flow, which increases each year as rents climb with inflation. Although that income is taxed, she doesn’t have to pay any because of the depreciation deduction she gets on the property, thus part of the tax benefits of owning it. Over the next 30 years, the value of the home increases to $600,000 (a 3% per year increase due to appreciation). Finally, each year during those 30 years the loan has been paid down, and Jenny owns the duplex free-and-clear. She now has an asset worth $600,000, plus she’s making thousands per month in cash flow.

This example above is not “pie in the sky” numbers — these are real life options when you buy the right deal and utilize all four of the four wealth generators. Imagine what Jenny’s net worth would be after 30 years if she had purchased two duplexes — or four, or twenty of them early on.

Now, of course, no one wants to wait 30 years to become a millionaire. So how do you speed up this process?

Well, there are a few ways you could speed this up:

  • Get a better deal. In the example with Jenny above, what if she was able to negotiate stronger and get that same duplex for $200,000 instead of $250,000? This would supercharge her growth.
  • Buy more deals. Jenny could have also purchased more properties. Perhaps she would buy one each year.
  • Buy in appreciating areas. While I used a 3% average for appreciation, Jenny could have researched job growth and other growth indicators to find an area where appreciation would be higher, perhaps 5-8% instead of 3%.
  • Force appreciation. Jenny also could have purchased a fixer-upper property that she could improve, increasing the immediate appreciation on the property. For example, maybe she could buy it for $150,000, put $30,000 of work into it, and it might be worth $275,000 at that point. This could also increase the speed at which her wealth would build.
  • Trade up. If you are familiar with the board game Monopoly, you’ll know the value in trading from four houses to a hotel. The same is true in real estate. Jenny could upgrade to bigger/better deals every few years to maximize her return. This is perhaps one of the fastest ways to achieve wealth through real estate — and if you want to know more, be sure to read How to Make a Million Dollars from Real Estate: A Step By Step Path.

I’ve only just barely scraped the surface on what real estate investing can do for you in your quest to become a millionaire. In fact, there are so many different paths and strategies you could take to become a millionaire through real estate that I could write a thousand books on the topic and never cover it all. You could spend your whole life learning about real estate and never learn it all. And that often becomes a problem! People get stuck in “education mode” and never escape it.

I’d encourage you to not get overwhelmed, not try to learn everything. Pick one niche (like single family houses, commercial properties, etc.) and one strategy (like rental, flip, etc.), and focus on that. Read one or two books on the subject, and then start moving! Find someone local who is doing the same thing as you want to do, and take them out to lunch. Ask for help, but don’t stop moving!

The road might be foggy — but if you just keep moving forward, more of the road ahead will be revealed.

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How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?




Buying a home is a huge investment — and you can’t exactly read Amazon reviews to get a sense of any problems that might crop up after you’ve plunked down your money. That’s why it’s smart to get a home inspection before you close the deal. But since home inspections aren’t free and that cash comes out of your pocket, you might be wondering: How much does a home inspection cost?

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a typical home inspection costs $300 to $500. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the agony these inspections can save you down the road. But the exact price will depend on the size of your home, where you live, and what you want inspected, says Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI).

What home inspectors look for

A professional home inspector, certified by the NAHI, is trained to look at over 1,600 features of your home that can fall into disrepair (who knew there were so many?).

Inspectors mainly look at the following:

  • Grounds for possible water problems
  • Structure for foundation, window, or door problems
  • Exterior for rot, decay, and excavation problems
  • Roof for shingle, flashing, and fascia problems
  • Interior for framing, insulation, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical issues
  • Kitchen for electrical code compliance, operating cabinets, and plumbing problems

An inspection of a typical house takes two or three hours; larger homes with two or three HVAC systems will take longer, and cost more as a result.

“There’s a lot more to look at in bigger homes,” McGavic says. “The house may have two or more heating systems, several water heaters, and more bathrooms.”

What should not make a price difference is the “thoroughness” of the inspection, the final written report, and the photos the inspector delivers to his client. These should be standard features of any home inspection — not extras.

“If someone says you’re going to get a more thorough inspection, that’s just hype,” McGavic says. “And if you don’t have a written report, you don’t have a home inspection.”

Do you need special home inspections?

“Specialty” inspections go beyond the typical scope of a home inspection and evaluate anything from radon to well water. These extra inspections can inflate the price anywhere from $25 to $200, depending on whether the inspection requires special equipment or lab testing.

Although everyone should spring for a termite inspection (if it’s not included in the standard inspection), other specialty inspections depend on where you live and any specific concerns you have about your home. Californians, for instance, often ask inspectors to look at a home’s earthquake strapping, while people buying in the Midwest’s Tornado Alley might spring for safe-room inspections to protect themselves against the next twister.

How do you know which specialty inspections you need? Ask your real estate agent, of course.

“Real estate agents know what are the most common inspections performed in your particular county,” McGavic says.

How to make the most of a home inspection

A home inspection is your authoritative proof of property problems. Armed with that knowledge, you can insist that the seller fix certain issues before closing, renegotiate the price to reflect future repairs, or walk away without losing your earnest money. In other words, although a home inspection costs money, it can potentially save you far more, perhaps even tens of thousands, in return.

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Watch Live TV on iPhone – The Best Apps

Learn how to watch live TV on iPhone with the best live TV apps for iPhone. We’ll show you how to get more from your cable subscription with free apps to watch live TV on the iPhone and how cord cutters can also watch live TV on the iPhone.

All of these apps and services include live tv streaming on the iPhone 6 as well as on other iPhone models running iOS 8 or higher.

To get the most out of what you pay for you will need to download several live TV apps and you may need to subscribe to another service. There are many other TV apps for the iPhone, but most will not give you access to live TV.

With the right Live TV apps for iPhone you can watch news, sports and your favorite TV shows without waiting for it to arrive on Hulu Plus or on another service.

25 Best Live TV iPhone Apps

Learn how to watch live TV on iPhone with the best live TV iPhone apps.

Learn how to watch live TV on iPhone with the best live TV iPhone apps.

While you can often find some illicit streams to watch live TV on the iPhone, finding the right live TV iPhone apps makes the viewing experience better.All of the apps below let you watch Live TV on iPhone, and some will allow you to use AirPlay to stream from your iPhone to your Apple TV to see on a bigger screen if you need it.

Most of these apps let you watch live TV on iPhone over 4G, 4G LTE and on WiFi without any restrictions, but a few will only fully work at home on your own WiFi.

If you already pay for cable or satellite TV there are a lot of apps that you can log into with your username and password to watch Live TV on the iPhone, in addition to the channels that the official company app offers.

Cord cutters can still watch live TV on iPhone with the right subscriptions, but the options are limited compared to a traditional cable or satellite subscription.

Cable and Satellite Apps for Live TV on iPhone

When you pay for cable you often get access to a company app that includes a variety of channels that you can stream to watch live TV on iPhone and other devices. The channels vary from one company to the next. You will need to check out the other network specific apps to watch everything you want live on the iPhone and this is especially true for watching sports live on iPhone or iPad.

Use these apps to stream live TV on iPhone.

Use these apps to stream live TV on iPhone.

Most of these apps let you watch Live TV without any added fee, but you may need to pay a monthly fee for some of the cell phone carrier options depending on your current plan.

AT&T U Verse Live TV

Use the AT&T U Verse iPhone app to watch live TV on iPhone from anywhere. The free app and service includes a number of channels that you can watch anywhere, but there are even more channels to watch when you are connected to your home network. Login to see what you can watch on the AT&T U Verse Live TV app. Download AT&T UVerse Live TV for iPhone.


The DirecTV iPhone app lets you watch live TV on your iPhone at home or on the go. The app warns users that streaming over cellular connections uses data, but it does not stop users from watching live TV on the iPhone from anywhere. You cannot watch every show that is on your package, but there is a decent selection. Download the DirecTV iPhone App.

Time Warner Cable TV

Recent updates make using the TWC TV app to watch live TV on iPhone even easier with a new preview window so you can see what you are already watching while you check out the guide. There are options to watch some Live TV and On Demand content on your iPhone while on cellular, but for others you need to be at home. There is also now an option to sort live streaming by local channel number for easier access. Download the TWC TV App.

Charter TV

The Charter TV app lets you watch 43 live TV channels on iPhone from anywhere and over 150 live channels when you are on your Charter home network connection. Charter also lets users download TV shows to watch offline later as part of this app. Download Charter TV for iPhone.

Cox TV Connect

The Cox TV Connect iPhone app lets subscribers watch some live TV channels on the iPhone, but this is more limited than the iPad app and many will only work inside your house. This is free with your Cox TV Essential and higher subscriptions. Download Cox TV Connect for iPhone.

DISH Anywhere

With DISH Anywhere and a Hopper with Sling, 922 Slingloaded DVR and other Hopper with Sling adapter DVR options you can use this app to watch live tv on iPhone and iPad. With this option you can watch any channel that is part of your dish subscription and access your DVR as if you were in your house. There is also an option to transfer DVR recordings to your iPhone. Download the DISH Anywhere iPhone app.

Access to channels varies based on the provider and your location.

Access to channels varies based on the provider and your location.

Verizon FIOS Mobile

The Verizon FIOS Mobile app includes access to live TV on the iPhone. The channel selection varies based on your subscription and where you are watching. Some channels only work at home, some work while you are traveling and if you are in NYC, NJ, Philadelphia or DC you can also stream select local channels live to iPhone or iPad.Download Verizon FIOS Mobile for iPhone.


The XFINITY TV GO App allows you to stream tv shows and movies from a variety of channels that you subscribe to. You can also download some shows to watch while you are offline. If you are a X1 subscriber you need to XFINITY TV App instead of the TV Go app. Download XFINITY TV GO app for iPhone.

Sprint TV for iPhone

Sprint subscribers with a data plan can watch live TV on the iPhone from Fox News, Fox Business, AP, NBC News and other channels. There are also on demand options available. Sprint sells seven premium packages from $2.99 to $9.99 a month depending what you want to watch. Download Sprint TV for iPhone.

Live TV on iPhone for Cable Cutters

While there isn’t a great free TV streaming app for iPhone that works without any type of subscription cord-cutters can use Sling TV as an option to get access to Live TV on iPhone.

Sling TV

For $20 a month you can subscribe to Sling TV and watch live tv on iPhone including ESPN, AMC TV and many other channels. This is a good complement to other services that cord cutters may already use and you can watch these channels live on your iPhone and other devices. You can only watch on one device at a time, but for many users this is enough. Download Sling TV for iPhone.

Network Apps to Watch Live TV on iPhone

Apps like Watch Disney allow users to stream live TV to the iPhone with a cable or satellite subscription.

Apps like Watch Disney allow users to stream live TV to the iPhone with a cable or satellite subscription.

If you already have a cable subscription or satellite subscription you can also stream Live TV on the iPhone with network apps and in some cases watch On demand shows. At least one of these apps lets you watch before the show is live on TV.

  • Comedy Central  – Watch some shows live and others before they are on TV.
  • CBS – Subscribe to CBS All Access for live TV streaming from select local CBS stations.
  • Watch ABC – Watch ABC live on your iPhone in Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco.
  • Watch Disney Channel – Watch live Disney TV shows from your iPhone.
  • Watch Tru TV – Login with your cable or satellite username and watch east coast or west coast feeds of Tru TV.

You can check to see if your subscription works by downloading the app and attempting to sign in. If you don’t see your company listed you may not be able to use these apps.

Watch Live Sports on iPhone

Watch ESPN and other apps stream live sports to iPhone users.

Watch ESPN and other apps stream live sports to iPhone users.

There are also a lot of opportunities to watch live sports on the iPhone. You will need a subscription to some type of service for any of these to work. Either through your cable subscriber or through your cell phone company.

  • Watch ESPN – Login with your cable username and password to watch ESPN live on the iPhone with many channel options.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket – DirecTV subscribers can pay extra for the option to watch live NFL games on iPhone and other devices with NFL Sunday Ticket.
  • MLB at Bat – MLB at Bat is available with an added subscription to watch your favorite MLB teams play live on the iPhone.
  • NBA Game Time – NBA games are also live on the iPhone with NBA GameTime and a subscription that unlocks live streaming.
  • NFL App on Verizon – Verizon Wireless customers on a Share Everything plan get access to live NFL games on the iPhone with this app.
  • NBC Sports Live Extra – Login with your TV subscription information to watch NBC Sports Live Extra on your iPhone.
  • Univision Desportes – Watch many soccer games live on your iPhone with Univision Desportes once you log in with a cable or satellite username and password.

The access to some of these may vary due to antiquated blackout rules and other annoying sports-specific restrictions.

Premium Live TV Apps for iPhone

If you pay for HBO or Showtime you can watch new episodes of original programming live on your iPhone at the same time it airs on TV. You’ll need a subscription and the corresponding app.

  • HBO Go – HBO Go works with a cable or Satellite subscription and includes on demand and live access.
  • HBO Now – This works on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV and it is available without a cable subscription.
  • Showtime – Showtime offers options with or without a cable subscription to see live original programming and access to on demand shows and movies.

If you want to use one of these services, you can always ask your cable or satellite provider for deals that can help keep the price down, at least for the start.

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Sell your home faster using social media


Today’s social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram have moved beyond a place for individuals to connect with friends and family, to a powerful marketing tool for big business as well as local entrepreneurs.

Don’t let them have all the fun. If you are placing your home on the market for sale, consider giving some time and attention to social media as part of your home-selling strategy.

Spread the word

Real estate professionals and individual sellers alike can use social media. But it’s best utilized as part of a larger multi-pronged approach.

Think of social media platforms as an amplification tool to broaden the reach of the news your home is for sale.

For example, boost attendance to your open house by creating a public Facebook event. However, it’s typically not a good idea to create a stand-alone page related to your home’s sale. It’s hard to build momentum on a new page which initially will have no followers.

Put friends and family to work

Remember that a little work in real life goes a long way online. Increase exposure by asking friends and family to share posts related to your home sale.

Leverage your current social network (as well as their networks) to boost your post’s reach. While they may not be in the market for a new home, they may know someone who is. The listing will then be spread virally from page to page.

And don’t forget to be creative. People are more likely to share quirky, funny or creative posts, rather than one that simply says “Home for Sale.”

Look for leads close to home

Research local social media groups and reach out to them about your home. Be sure to get prior permission from the administrator, or this approach could backfire.

Their contact info is typically easy to find. For example, target LinkedIn groups for professionals who are relocating to your area or Meetup.com groups for local real estate investors.

Put 2016 technology to work for you

Many smartphones come with simple-to-use movie-making apps. Put them to use to create a property tour of the home.

It pays to explore your phone’s app store to see what’s new, as innovative tools are constantly hitting the market.

For example, there are 360-degree photo apps that allow you to create sweeping panoramas of each room of your property. Utilizing the latest technology will help your listing stand out in the crowd.

If you are looking to really make an impact, there are online advertising platforms designed to make promotion on social media simple.

While the services are reasonably inexpensive, make sure to set a firm budget as to what you are willing to spend, and stick to it.

Programs like Facebook Ads allow you to target the specific demographics that are most likely to be interested in your home.

The reality

Selling a home is a complicated process, and if you (and your agent) diversify your approach, your chance of a fast sale increases.

Social media can be a powerful tool in your home-selling arsenal. Use it wisely.

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A First Time Home Buyers Story!


I like to think of the first year of home ownership akin to (what I assume to be) the first year of marriage. It’s often the most difficult, because you don’t know what to expect. You’re used to something different (renting) and the entire year is spent adjusting. It’s just as great at you imagined it would be, but it often involves a lot of very hard work.

Next week it will be my one year anniversary of closing on the house. I’m celebrating in my own small way, but looking back on it, there are more than a handful of things I wish I’d done differently. Here are five (of many) first time home buying mistakes that cost me big time.

Buying Too Much House

I bought a house when I was engaged and expecting the single family home to be for a growing family rather than a swinging single gal. I did the best job I could and made a decision based on the set of circumstances that were true at the time. If I had a crystal ball to see if I would have been a single female homeowner three months after I bought the house then, yeah, I would have bought a lower maintenance condo in a nicer area and skipped the renovations altogether.

The relationship was far easier to get out of than the mortgage, so I think the first mistake was buying something I couldn’t manage on my own. I know buying for a current situation rather than a future one feels a bit like betting on the relationship to fail, but better safe than sorry when you’re playing the high stakes real estate game with someone you’re not married to.

I Would Have Prioritized Renovation Projects Like an Investor

It’s the old real estate adage that kitchens are what sell the home, and bathrooms hold their value. Thinking I was making a home for a family I did a bunch of other projects that would only make sense if I were going to stay in the house long term. The game changed, as did my desire to stay in the home longer than necessary and so looking back I wished I’d prioritized the renovation projects with the precise eye of an investor looking to make money.

I renovated the downstairs bathroom instead of the “master” bath simply because the green bathroom was hideous and I couldn’t stand to look at it. Yet every day when I run out of counter space or have to shower in my teeny-tiny stall in my bathroom upstairs, I wish I’d done things differently.

I Would Have Asked More Questions

I think there is a difference between paying attention and asking questions. You can pay attention your whole life and never get up the nerve to ask questions.

Looking back on it, I was definitely afraid to ask questions during the mortgage and renovation process because I didn’t want to seem unintelligent. I think being young and naive I expected someone — anyone — else to come charging in and ask them for me, not remembering that the biggest part of being an adult is having to have the tough conversations yourself.

Truth time: What you don’t know CAN hurt you and if you don’t ask you’ll never know.

Most importantly, if you don’t ask, no one else will and we’re talking about the most expensive purchase of your adult lifetime. If you neglect to ask your mortgage broker, real estate agent, or contractor something, you could risk losing thousands of dollars, so why take that risk? Just ask the darn question.

I Would Have Done More Research

I only shopped at two places for a mortgage. I only got two bids for the renovation work (partially because it was difficult to find a contractor willing to take on 203k renovation loan). I didn’t check references or anything. I just felt like I got a “good vibe” from my contractor and trusted my gut. Sometimes even your gut can be wrong, and there isn’t anything bad about backing up a “gut feeling” with a little hard research.

I Would Have Budgeted More

I had my budget for the purchase and the renovation. Even without the down-payment assistance I received from the City of Atlanta, the budget barely left any room for overages. If I’d done more research, I would have been able to make a better budget. My rule of thumb now? Whatever I think something home-related is going to cost, I double it, just in case. Better to be surprised than stressed.

I know I’m painting a very negative picture, but it hasn’t been all bad. I’ve got a lot of equity in the home to fund whatever venture I want to do next, and I now know all kinds of crazy stuff: like how to hang a light fixture, troubleshoot plumbing problems, and install shelving and closet systems. It’s been a tough journey, sure, but also and incredibly rewarding one personally and emotionally. With the purchase of a home I’m officially adulting, I just wish I could’ve saved myself a little bit of the stress along the way.

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Social-Media Tools to consider in 2016

social media toolsSocial media is here to stay in the marketing world and, by all accounts, it will only further penetrate all aspects of life and work. As we enter 2016, many social-media experts are already forecasting the direction of social media in the new year.

To be prepared, it’s that time of year to organize our social-media tool boxes, adding some new tools that can be game-changers in terms of how effective this platform is for certain strategic objectives. Here are 20 recommended social-media tools to add to your game plan, if you don’t have them already.

1. Canva

With the need to include more visual content as part of your social-media posts, you can turn to Canva for high-quality images that fit your budget. They offer numerous templates that help you look like a great designer, even if you don’t always know exactly what you are doing.

2. Buffer

Posting your social-media content across multiple social media accounts gets a whole lot easier with this tool. It allows you to create a posting schedule for your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ pages all in one place, creating a queue and saving you considerable time.

3. Brand24

Rather than have to search around for what people are saying about your brand, Brand24 delivers real-time information on what’s been said as well as what is going on with your competition. This continual insight can help you effectively respond to positive and negative comments across your social-media platforms, so you can stay engaged with your audience as well as effectively gauge any potential sales opportunities.

4. Edgar

It’s okay to re-use old content on social media as long as its relevant, but it is often hard to find that great content among the daily social-media posts. Edgar can solve that by helping you to locate some of that incredible content that many followers may have missed, because they were inundated with the constant flow of information. But they might catch your great information this time around. This social-media tool provides a way to categorize your posts, so you can more easily track down the content that you want to re-post in the near future.

5. Bundlepost

This social-media tool is another option for scheduling your posts but one that comes with features that improve upon other options. One highlight is Bundlepost will replace common niche keywords with hashtags, vastly improving your engagement results.

6. Nuzzel

As both a web and iOS app, this social-media tool helps you organize the stories shared by your Facebook and Twitter friends, aggregating the information into easy-to-read links and providing a way to add influencers that you can leverage for your own marketing needs. You can also go deeper by accessing the stories shared by friends of friends to develop a better understanding of your audience.

7. Cyfe

To understand what is working and not working, it’s important to add many analytics tools to your social media toolbox. Cyfe delivers detailed reports related to SEO, Google Analytics, AdWords and brand mentions that even a small-business owner can afford to use. It also gives you customizable dashboards to store and review this data. Beyond just its social-media application, Cyfe also helps with industry and competitor research as a business intelligence tool that helps turn data and trends into actionable insights.

8. Social Clout

As another analytics tool, Social Clout looks at where you can make significant improvements in engagement, campaigns and keywords. It also delivers reports on demographics and social-media results. All of these reports provide data on multiple social-media accounts to help you track the progress and be able to note the differences in responses across platforms.

9. SecureMySocial

Tracking what is being said on social media goes beyond just looking after your audience. You need to consider what your employees are saying and doing that might reflect on the company. This tool provides a way to get an alert in real time if any social-media posts which others make violates a company policy or the law. It is also possible for you to have the  person posting information get a notification that they are in violation, which could help maintain the reputation of the company when you don’t necessarily have time to track every post.

10. AgoraPulse

If you primarily use Facebook and Twitter for business, this tool enhances what you can do with both social-media platforms, offering customer relationship management software, applications, analytics reports, contests and more.

11. Nuvi

As an analytics tool, Nuvi can see what others cannot see in terms of Facebook conversations, including private and public posts. This means you can get insights into what people are saying behind the scenes that can help you to further shape your social media messages.

12. Follower Wonk

As a Moz app solely for Twitter analytics, Follower Wonk helps you find, analyze and optimize your social-media efforts on this platform. You can get deeper information about your followers, where they are located, and when they tweet plus the ability to locate new influencers and optimize your own tweets.

13. Feedly

To help gauge what others are saying in terms of content and identify the key industry trends in relevant information that should shape your own social-media posts, Feedly offers content curation and content sharing that integrates with Buffer.

14. Inkybee

This social-media tool provides a way for you to locate those influencers who can elevate your brand and attract more potential customers. It provides a way for you to search for bloggers and social-media celebrities interested in your industry, so you can connect with them.

15. Adobe Post

This app is a new to the photo scene app but has become something very near to my heart. I use it for creating stunning photos for my blog and social-media presence. Best part about it is that it’s free. You simply choose from millions of photos, and it’ll put together what looks like the best presentation in the world.

16. Sendible

This is a powerful social-media tool that brings together all aspects of your social-media management responsibilities. This includes pulling all posts and comments into one dashboard for analysis, measurement and engagement. Other features include publishing, collaboration, customer relationship management and mobile tools.

17. Person App

This app essentially puts a face to all those followers and friends in the social-media world. You can also create specific personas that then interact with this audience. Together, social media becomes more personalized and human.

18. Openr

Make the most of your social-media efforts with this tool, which lets you add a promotional message to any message you share on your social-media profiles. The result is more leads and traffic while letting you learn more about your audience.

19. Socedo

Marketing automation is increasingly driving success for businesses in terms of enhancing sales whilst reducing cost and effort. Socedoautomates the lead generation process by bringing in relevant prospects through social media. The platform matches users’ interest with your defined criteria and engages prospective customers, automatically using a customizable workflow. In addition, Socedo also provides analytics and insights, so you can fine-tune and tweak the workflow in order to get better quality leads.

20. Babbly

Meanwhile, virality is one of the main goals of marketing through social-media channels. Babbly enables you to amplify your audience by sharing content through its own community of users and influencers. The tool is very simple. You just enter or paste the URL you want to promote, and the platform does its job. Babbly comes in a straightforward interface that’s also mobile-friendly, which means you can grab attention for your content across different kinds of devices.

While there are hundreds of apps and tools now available that deserve your consideration as viable solutions to enhance your social-media presence and investment, these 20 social-media tools offer a range in capabilities and costs to appeal to everyone from a growing startup to a full-fledged established company.

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