How to Identify a Text Scam

scam text messages

With any new form of communication comes the potential for scammers. Spam texts and text scams can be an unwelcome privacy intrusion and, if you fall for them, they could potentially create havoc in your life. SMS scams generally have the same goal: stealing your money by getting your personal information people across the globe now have instant connection at their fingertips. Plus, they’re always evolving. The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker program added 47,567 separate text scams to its scam tracking program in 2019. Here’s how to identify a spam text to protect yourself, your friends and your family.

4 ways to identify scam text messages

Smishing, phishing that occurs over SMS, is often easy to spot when you know what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to weed out spam and text scams from your message inbox, these are the common warning signs that can tip you off. 

1. Abnormally long numbers

If a text message is legitimate, it’s usually from a number 10 digits or less. Marketing messages are either sent from a six digit short code or a 10-digit commercial long code. If you get a text from a number that is 11 digits long, you can probably assume you’re getting a text scam. Receiving a spam text from a long number doesn’t happen often, but if it does, be extra cautious before choosing to respond. In fact, this is probably a text you just don’t want to reply to.

2. Family crisis texts

Receiving news of a family crisis is alarming. If you were to receive a text from a random number asking for help, you might be inclined to send money to an unverified destination in case it would help a loved one. Family crisis text scams use this psychology to trick recipients into thinking a family member is in danger—and that they need to send money to correct the situation. 

When money is involved, err on the side of caution and proceed with skepticism. It’s likely you’re receiving an SMS scam.

If you’re unsure of the validity of a text, reach out to family members to ask whether they’ve received the same message. Additionally, if the text mentions someone by name, try reaching out to that person directly before responding to the original text. 

If a family member truly is in trouble, contact the proper authorities instead of sending money.

3. Text refund 

Another common text scam comes in the form of a text refund. Basically, you’ll receive a message saying that you’ve been overcharged for a service—many text scams use the guise of a phone service provider. The text will then offer to refund you, if you provide your direct deposit information. 

Sounds great, right? Nope! If you send your banking details over, whoever is scamming you will have access to your routing and account number and be able to steal from you. Never send banking information through unsecured means.

4. Random prizes

Scammers have come up with a myriad of creative ways to get your personal information. One of these ways is offering up random prizes, including cash and material goods. The catch? You’ll need to give your bank details, or other personal information, in order to claim the “prize.” 

While text-to-win contests are a legitimate form of text marketing, be wary of receiving news that you’ve won a contest you didn’t even enter. Despite the thrill of receiving an offer that sounds too good to be true, restrain yourself. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. If you can’t tell whether the offer is legitimate, call the company the contest is supposedly through and ask for verification. 

10 Common text scams to watch out for

There seem to be new text scams every day, but there are a few smishing techniques that are more popular than others. Here’s a 2019 list of common text scams and spam text messages examples to be wary of. 

1. Wells Fargo text scam

Wells Fargo has four official short codes, so if you get a text claiming to be from the bank but not from one of their official short codes. Don’t respond, it’s a phishing text. Wells Fargo’s verified short codes are: 93557, 93733, 93729 and 54687. 

Also, be aware that Wells Fargo will only ask to verify your identity if you’ve initiated some sort of action such as signing into online banking. If you haven’t done anything related to your banking that would prompt and identity check, it’s probably a text scam message. 

You can report a text scam message to Wells Fargo by copying and pasting the text message into an email (don’t attach screenshots) and sending it to [email protected]. If you’ve accidentally responded to the text message scam, call Wells Fargo at 1-866-867-5568.

2. Uber code text scam

Many people have reported receiving mysterious and unsolicited text messages with Uber confirmation codes despite not having recently signed up for the service. These occur when someone tries to create an Uber account with your text message. Phone numbers must be verified via text message, which is when the confirmation text is sent out. 

Since the text message is going to you, and not the scammer, it is impossible for the scammer to confirm the account and use your number. To end these text messages, reply STOP. 

3. Craigslist text scam

There’s more than one Craigslist text scam going around out there. The online classified website is a popular ground for scammers looking for easy targets. Scammers on Craigslist are typically phishing. 

What often happens is that scammers will send a text message saying you have notifications about a Craigslist post. Watch out for the domain. A common scam domain is, but there could be other domains that, like this one, look somewhat similar to an actual Craigslist domain but aren’t. Don’t click on any links that don’t take you directly to Craigslist and definitely don’t input any information on a site that isn’t directly owned by Craigslist. 

4. Bank of America text scam

Similar to the Wells Fargo text scam, with the Bank of America text scam the spammers will be sending you an illegitimate text message trying to get you to hand over personal banking information. Don’t respond to any text messages that ask for personal information. You can report Bank of America spam text messages by emailing [email protected]. Include the number the spam text came from as well as what it said.

5. FedEx text scam

A popular text scam in 2019 is for the scammers to imitate a brand like FedEx, telling you they need additional information or money in order to deliver a package to you. FedEx does not require money transfer to third party or escrow service before they’ll deliver a package, so if that’s what the text message indicates then it’s definitely a FedEx text scam. While shipping services like FedEx can send legitimate automated SMS shipping updates, they’ll never ask for money or personal details before they deliver.

Sometimes, the scammers will threaten immediate action, such as suspension of your account, if you do not comply with their demands. These spam text messages will usually include a link to a site that is not owned by FedEx. Don’t click on these links or reply to these text messages. You can report them to FedEx by emailing [email protected]

6. Paypal text scam

Paypal is common territory for scammers looking to phish personal information over SMS message. The scammers will often tell you that your account is in danger of being deleted unless you take certain actions. Or, they might ask you to provide the tracking number of an item before you’ve received payment into your account. Remember, don’t provide any sensitive information like this unless you’re directly on a secure version of the Paypal website. Paypal won’t ask you for information like your credit card number, bank account number or driver’s license number over text message. You can report spam directly to Paypal at [email protected]

7. Western Union text scam

There are several types of Western Union SMS scams to be aware of. One of the most popular ones is a charity scam where the scammer will ask for money to be sent to help victims of an emergency. Keep in mind that legitimate charities don’t accept donations through Western Union.

The other common Western Union text scam is a smishing scam where the scammers will be trying to get personal identification information from you to proceed with identity theft. Don’t provide any personal identification through text message and be wary of any links that redirect to web pages that look somewhat “off.” 

Oh yeah, and if you get a text message offering you “free money” or a prize from Western Union if you’ll just enter some personal information — that one’s a scam too. That’s probably one of the most obvious spam text messages examples, but many people do legitimately fall for it each year, causing untold personal heartache.

8. Walmart text scam

One of the most common Walmart spam text messages examples is where the scammer will send a spam text claiming that you’ve won a free Walmart gift card. They’ll ask you to go to a link and enter your personal information to claim your prize. 

If you don’t remember entering the contest, it’s probably a scam. Definitely don’t enter any personal information on websites like these. If you think the offer might be legitimate, try to find contact information for the company who is running the contest. If you can’t find any information, then it’s definitely a scam. 

Another common Walmart text scam is one where scammers invite you to take a survey about your experience at Walmart. You have to follow a link to a survey and input personal information in order to do so. Do not enter personal or account information on a site like this. 

Lastly, if you receive a text message with an online order confirmation about an order that you did not place through, this could be another text scam. Watch out for scammers who claim they just need some additional personal information or payment to deliver your order. A real order confirmation should provide all the details about the order in the body of the message without requiring you to click any links. 

9. Someone complimented you text scam

The “someone complimented you” text scam went viral in 2018 with many people claiming it was linked to sex trafficking. The good news on this one is that it’s actually not a scam, per se. It was a marketing attempt by an app company to get people to download their app. Unfortunately, it does appear that they texted many phone numbers without prior consent, which is not compliant with federal laws. They did end up cancelling text invites because it was coming across as too spammy.

I think I sent my information to a scammer. Now what?

If you received a message that you now recognize as part of a scam, you still have options. If you’ve given your information, consider the following tactics to regain financial security and peace of mind. 

  • If you’ve given card information, cancel those cards with your bank. This makes the information you’ve given out unusable to scammers. If you’ve given out personal banking information such as your account numbers, contact your bank immediately to begin the appropriate spam protocol.
  • Report the fraud to your phone service provider, as they may have had other customers with the same experience. Informing your cell carrier will allow them to take action if they see their clients experiencing similar spam texts, or texts from the same number. 
  • Update your passwords! It never hurts to reset your online banking passwords, or any stored passwords you use online for that matter.  Doing so will make the process of hacking your account more difficult. You should have a unique password for every account and not one standard password you use across the internet. 
  • Take action and block the number sending you spam text. 

How to report spam text messages

If you’ve received a spam text message that claims to be from a certain company or brand, you should contact the customer service or dedicated abuse email or phone number at that company to report the spam. 

In addition to that, many carriers allow you to report spam text messages by forward the message to 7726 — this spells out SPAM on most phones. Verify with your carrier that this feature is supported with them. 

If you are the victim of fraud, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. You can also report fraud to the FTC.

How to stop spam text messages

If you’ve been on the receiving end of text spam before it’s only natural to wonder how to block spam text messages. There are a couple of different strategies when it comes to how to stop text spam. Here’s what you can do.

  • Do not respond. If the message is clearly from a scammer, don’t reply to them at all. This just confirms that your number is active. 
  • Reply STOP. If you’re dealing with a company, and not a scammer, you might take a different approach. If the spam text messages are from a legitimate company that isn’t doing anything wrong, per se, but they’re just annoying you with too many offers or SMS messages, just reply STOP to opt out. This should get you off of their text message list.
  • Block numbers. Yes, spammers and scammers can and do create new spams with different short codes. However, blocking numbers you know are definitely linked to a scammer can buy you some reprieve in the short term.
  • Report. If you’re wondering how to stop spam text messages once and for all, one of the best ways to stamp them out is to report scammers or spammers to the appropriate authorities. Also, report the scam to your carrier. They can use the information to figure out how to stop spam text messages at the source.

If you’re looking to avoid future text spam and scams, try installing an app like Truecaller or RoboKiller. These apps work to filter out spam texts, not to mention unwanted calls from telemarketers. 

Why am I getting spam text messages in the first place?

The mystery of how and why your number got into the hands of a scammer in the first place can be fascinating to many people. In all likelihood you’re getting a spam text message because your number was accessed by a person or company who you did not give consent to contact you. In the United States, any entity that sends text messages must be able to demonstrate that you agreed to receiving text messages from them — otherwise it’s considered illegal contact. 

Spring Maintenance!

Strategies to cope with Corona-virus anxiety

As the Corona virus continues its global spread and the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases continues to increase, anxiety related to the outbreak is on the rise too.

The following suggestions, based on psychological science, can help you deal with corona virus anxiety.

1. Practice tolerating uncertainty

Intolerance of uncertainty, which has been increasing in the US, makes people vulnerable to anxiety. A study during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic showed that people who had a harder time accepting the uncertainty of the situation were more likely to experience elevated anxiety.

The solution is to learn to gradually face uncertainty in daily life by easing back on certainty-seeking behaviors.

Start small: Don’t text your friend immediately the next time you need an answer to a question. Go on a hike without checking the weather beforehand. As you build your tolerance-of-uncertainty muscle, you can work to reduce the number of times a day you consult the internet for updates on the outbreak.

Limit your daily digital intake.

2. Tackle the anxiety paradox

Anxiety rises proportionally to how much one tries to get rid of it. Or as Carl Jung put it, “What you resist persists.”

Struggling against anxiety can take many forms. People might try to distract themselves by drinking, eating or watching Netflix more than usual. They might repeatedly seek reassurance from friends, family or health experts. Or they might obsessively check news streams, hoping to calm their fears. Although these behaviors can help momentarily, they can make anxiety worse in the long run. Avoiding the experience of anxiety almost always backfires.

Instead, allow your anxious thoughts, feelings and physical sensations to wash over you, accepting anxiety as an integral part of human experience. When waves of corona virus anxiety show up, notice and describe the experience to yourself or others without judgment. Resist the urge to escape or calm your fears by obsessively reading virus updates. Paradoxically, facing anxiety in the moment will lead to less anxiety over time.

3. Transcend existential anxiety

Health threats trigger the fear that underlies all fears: fear of death. When faced with reminders of one’s own mortality, people might become consumed with health anxiety and hyper focused on any signs of illness.

Try connecting to your life’s purpose and sources of meaning, be it spirituality, relationships, or pursuit of a cause. Embark on something important that you’ve been putting off for years and take responsibility for how you live your life. Focusing on or discovering the “why” of life can go a long way in helping you deal with unavoidable anxiety.

You are stronger than you think you are.

4. Don’t underestimate human resiliency

Many people fear how they will manage if the virus shows up in town, at work or at school. They worry how they would cope with a quarantine, a daycare closure or a lost paycheck. Human minds are good at predicting the worst.

But research shows that people tend to overestimate how badly they’ll be affected by negative events and underestimate how well they’ll cope with and adjust to difficult situations.

Be mindful that you are more resilient than you think. It can help attenuate your anxiety.

5. Don’t get sucked into overestimating the threat

Corona virus can be dangerous, with an estimated 1.4% to 2.3% death rate. So everyone should be serious about taking all the reasonable precautions against infection.

But people also should realize that humans tend to exaggerate the danger of unfamiliar threats compared to ones they already know, like seasonal flu or car accidents. Constant incendiary media coverage contributes to the sense of danger, which leads to heightened fear and further escalation of perceived danger.

To reduce anxiety, I recommend limiting your exposure to corona virus news to no more than 30 minutes per day. And remember that we become more anxious when faced with situations that have no clear precedent. Anxiety, in turn, makes everything seem more dire.

6. Strengthen self-care

During these anxiety-provoking times, it’s important to remember the tried-and-true anxiety prevention and reduction strategies. Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature and employ relaxation techniques when stressed.

Prioritizing these behaviors during the corona virus crisis can go a long way toward increasing your psychological well being and bolstering your immune system.

7. Seek professional help if you need it

People who are vulnerable to anxiety and related disorders might find the corona virus epidemic particularly overwhelming. Consequently, they might experience anxiety symptoms that interfere with work, maintaining close relationships, socializing or taking care of themselves and others.

If this applies to you, please get professional help from your doctor or a mental health professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy and certain medications can successfully treat anxiety problems.

Although you might feel helpless during this stressful time, following these strategies can help keep anxiety from becoming a problem in its own right and enable you to make it through the epidemic more effectively.

Timing Isn’t Everything

Timing isn’t everything when selling a property, but get it wrong and risk losing the sale! Property sellers should read up on the many ways they can sabotage the sale of their home. The same mistakes are made by so many sellers that the same issues surface in article after article on the subject.

A key factor that I find is not on enough lists is timing.

Most important, and perhaps most obvious, is when to put a property on the market. However, every market is different, and every market changes a bit each year, so there is no single “ideal” month to offer your home for sale. Sure, over time, each market has its periods of significant activity — often summer months — and lower activity, but a sharp listing broker will have a more precise timing strategy to recommend.

Timing your offer for sale generally has three goals: securing the most showings, landing the most offers and earning the appraised value you need. Considering the appraisal process often is forgotten in the decision-making process.

All appraisers get a copy of your executed sales contract and will look at several months of comparable sales, though it seems most prefer to stay within the last four months. Think about the pricing and market activity your area will have experienced in that time period. Will enough similar properties have sold within that window to generate enough data to support the appraisal you need, and will it be at prices that back up your price? List in March, get an offer in April and the comparable properties used in your appraisal may be from December. That might be a good thing in your market, or maybe not. Are people discounting their December or January sales or getting top dollar?

If your appraisal comes in well below your agreed-upon price, many buyers will panic and back out of the sale. The buyer and their agent know that if you refuse to accept their price, even if it is below the appraised amount, then you must put the house back on the market with three issues. First, the property now has a stigma attached. Future buyers and their agents will wonder and ask if it was because of inspection or appraisal issues. Second, your days on market are going to stretch out even further, which can make potential buyers wonder if there is a problem and then put your home lower on their list. And third, you have no guarantee that your second appraisal — assuming you can get a second buyer — will be as high as the first one. So, many sellers feel pressured to go ahead and accept the first buyer’s renegotiated offer even if it is below the original contract price and below the appraised value.

Three other timing questions that quickly come into play after you have placed your home on the market are when to make pricing changes, when does the number of days on the market accumulate to where it creates a problem and when do you address issues with your property that were pointed out in feedback from initial showings?

Your initial asking price is a balance between trying to get the highest reasonable price the property is likely to appraise and finding a price low enough to make your pool of potential buyers as large as possible.

Often the first weekend on the market can be very telling and helpful in determining timing for a pricing adjustment. If you and your agent are pleased with the number of showings, even if you didn’t receive the number of offers you wanted, and the feedback on the property is good, you may decide to leave the price and condition the same through a second weekend. If not, it is time to decide on changes to price and/or on things you should change about the property, such as paint or flooring or staging.

When the response from the marketplace is the property needs work or that the price is too high, too often sellers are too slow to make changes. Sellers should remember that an amazing number of people do not seem to be able to visualize the property on their own as it would look with improvements, and it is nearly impossible to lure a potential buyer back to a home once they have rejected it. Sellers who hesitate on price changes or fixes lose valuable days on the market.

In many markets, brokers find “starter” houses should be under contract fairly quickly, or the price or condition needs to be addressed. Higher-priced properties have a smaller pool of potential buyers and thus stay on the market longer. However, more than 45 to 60 days on the market can be hard to overcome unless you have made significant price drops, depending on the specific market. If your property is the likely target for a move-up buyer, giving the buyer time to sell their own home first might be part of your timing calculation. That type of buyer might first need to be sure they are getting enough out of the sale of their property to be able to afford the payment on yours. Local agents should know the range in advance to be able to guide the seller.

Too often sellers hire an expert advisor, as they should, for something as complex and important as marketing one’s property for sale yet fail to act on the advice of that expert and, thus, sabotage their own sale. When working with a listing broker, pay special attention to timing as a critical category of expertise to follow. Timing isn’t everything when selling real estate, but it is one of the most critical strategies when trying for a speedy sale at the highest price.

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Quibi Short-Form Videos Coming to Mobile Phones

Is short-form video the future of entertainment? Jeffrey Katzenberg, former chairman of Walt Disney studios, co-founder of DreamWorks Animation, and the brainchild behind Quibi (pronounced “kwibee”), thinks so. In case you haven’t heard, Quibi — short for “quick bites” — is an app built to deliver high-quality, short videos to your mobile phone for watching while you’re on the go and time is limited — like when you’re sitting in a waiting room or standing at a bus stop.

Before you write off Quibi, consider this: There’s big Hollywood money behind it, and it is not a repository of cat videos and amateur clips. No, Quibi will feature original content created by big-name directors and starring A-list actors when it launches in April. (Did you catch the Super Bowl commercial?)

The goal is to create theatrical-quality content that will attract younger viewers who have an ever-shortening attention span as well as appeal to anyone who has a few minutes to watch an entertaining video. With a typical budget of a $125,000-a-minute, “Quibis” will have same high production as a Hollywood film.

In his keynote speech at CES 2020, Katzenberg said Quibi has “set out to tell Hollywood caliber stories in a whole new way, on a platform that has become completely ubiquitous — the mobile phone. Our vision is to

5- to 10-minute chapters that fit perfectly into every moment of your day. We aim to give you big stories in quick bites.”

Katzenberg says inspiration for Quibi came from the Dan Brown novel The DaVinci Code, which is divided into 5-page chapters instead of 20- to 40-page chapters. The short chapters make it easier to read in short spurts without having to put the book down in the middle of a chapter.

Likewise, Quibi breaks a movie into a number of 7- to 10-minute chapters that will be released weekly. So a 2-hour movie might be broken into 12 or more chapters. And whether it’s an episodic TV show or a movie, segments are written to end at a logical stopping point to ensure a natural progression as the story is told. It’s not a new concept. For years, TV producers have had to break shows up into 10-minute segments that go between commercial breaks and do so without losing viewer interest.

Innovative Filmmaking for the Mobile Phone

Apart from being short, Quibis are created specifically for playback on a mobile phone. Scenes are shot to be viewed on a small screen and the video is optimized for the best possible image and sound.

To make on-the-go viewing as convenient as possible, Quibi created a unique “turnstile” feature that makes it easy to switch between viewing in landscape and portrait (vertical) modes and get video that fills the screen in both positions.

Turnstile is innovative and clever. Both portrait and landscape videos are delivered in the same stream. The view you are not watching streams as a low-resolution “sidecar” that becomes full quality when you turn your phone to ensure a seamless flow of action as you switch from one position to the other.

Another way Quibi is taking advantage of the mobile phone format is by delivering content at specific times during the day. The After Dark series created by Steven Spielberg, for example, will only be available after sunset and before sunrise because your phone knows what time it is.

Original Content

In the first year, Quibi’s original content will include 175 shows and movies plus 8,500 bits including news briefs, unscripted documentary shorts, and sports highlights.

Content will fall into one of three categories: Movies, unscripted episodic documentaries, and a catch-all comprising news, sports, and lifestyle shorts.

Movies will be presented in the short-chapter format described earlier and, as noted, feature some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Here are some examples.

Director Pete Farrelly (Green Book, There’s Something About Mary) has created The Now starring Bill Murray and Dave Franco (Now You See Me) about a young man with a troubled past who has to learn to live in “the now.”

A Quibi remake of The Fugitive, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Boyd Holbrook, is also in the works. In this updated version, Holbrook plays Mike Ferro, who is on the run after being framed for an explosion on a train in Los Angeles.

Most Dangerous Game, starring Liam Hemsworth and Christoph Waltz, is about a terminally-ill man (Hemsworth) with a pregnant wife. To take care of his wife, he participates in a dangerous game that could pay $24.5 million…if he can survive the 24 hours.

In Survive, Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) have survived a plane crash on a remote mountain. They must work together to find their way to safety.

Flipped is a comedy about a couple — Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson — who love to watch home renovation shows. While renovating a house, they find $500,000 in a wall and use it to become stars of their own home renovation show. Unfortunately, this brings attention from members of a cartel whose money they found (Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, and Arturo Castro).

Academy Award-winning director, Guillermo del Torro (The Shape of Water and Pan’s Labyrinth) is working on a zombie movie and Sam Raimi, who directed the Marvel Spiderman series, is working on a project called 50 States of Fear that will feature horror stories from each state.

At launch, unscripted episodic documentaries will cover more than 120 subjects from food to fashion, cars, and other niche interests. Barkitecture is a series about extravagant dog houses.

The news, sports, and lifestyle shorts category will feature content produced for Quibi. NBC News will stream a morning and evening news brief and BBC will stream one news show per day at noon.

ESPN is producing a sports highlights show and there will be an e-sports show about competitive video gaming.

Lifestyle shorts include a talk show with Rachel Hollis, The Daily Chill for meditation, and a Last Night’s Late Night round-up show.

Quibi’s Daily Essentials are like cliff notes for news, sports, and TV. You may never have to watch a complete show again.

Despite its short form, Quibi isn’t free. A monthly subscription with ads will cost $5/month and an ad-free subscription will run $8/month. The app is slated to April 6.

The 10 Things Every Millennial Needs To Know Before Buying A First Home

Millenials are getting ready to buy their dream homes. Image Via: Wettling Architects

Millenials are getting ready to buy their dream homes.

Right now, millennials might have a reputation of crazy twenty-somethings not quite ready to settle down. But, a recent report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that “the number of households in their 30s should increase by 2.7 million over the next decade.” Ready or not, the millennial boom is coming.

Whether you count yourself in that demographic or are just a first time home buyer. There are some topics in the buying process that are essential to know before taking the plunge.

We’ve compiled a list of the ten most important things that everyone new to the housing market needs to know. Look them over and keep them in mind as you start your housing search. You only buy your first home once, so let us help you make it count. These tips will help you find a home that’s the right fit for you.

1. Hire a Professional Realtor

Let’s all admit it. Real estate agents often get a bad rap as swindlers. It’s because of that stigma – and the thought of saving a few dollars – that keeps many people from using them. However, listening to the hype may cost you more in the long run.

Your first time in the real estate market can get confusing. There’s lots of legal negotiation and large sums of money are often involved. There is no reason to add on the stress of having to navigate through the transaction alone, especially since if you decide to go it alone. Hire a professional to assist you.

A qualified professional can help you sort through the industry terms that make up the majority of contracts and inspection reports. They do the leg work of setting up showings and act as your advocate during the transaction so that you’re free to focus on preparing for your move. In the middle of all that craziness, you’ll appreciate the extra assistance. A real estate agent will help you find rooms that you can picture yourself living in.

2. Look Realistically At Your Budget

Your budget is the first thing that you need to look at when getting ready to buy a home. After all, it determines which properties you see and you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you miss out on the perfect house because you’re not sure how much you can spend. Or, worse yet, find yourself falling in love with a dream home you can’t afford.

Budgeting is the way to make sure that you only look at houses that you can feasibly and comfortably. Doing so will help you save time and help you get into your new property much faster.

Sit down and budget your income versus expenses. Try to settle on two amounts: One figure that shows the amount you’d be comfortable spending monthly and another that shows your absolute maximum. You can use a budget calculator to help, if necessary. Try to figure out exactly how much space you can afford.

Try to figure out exactly how much space you can afford. Image Via: Allen+Killcoyne Architects

3. Prioritize Your Wish List

We all have a wish list for our for our future dream homes. Whether it’s a gourmet kitchen or fabulous outdoor pool setup, odds are you know what you want and exactly how it should look. We’re happy to tell you that can take some your wish list with you when looking at properties, just not all of it.

When it comes to looking at real estate and especially when you are looking at starter homes, prioritization is key. You may not get every item on your list, but if you narrow it down to the features you absolutely need, you’ll likely end up happy with the result.

So make two lists. One with items that are absolutely necessary like the number of – bedrooms and bathrooms in a home – and another for nonessential items that would make you happy to have in a home. Focus on finding properties that check off all of the items on your first list and think of items on the second list as added benefits. Decide which features – like layout – are necessary in a home.

Decide which features - like layout - are necessary in a home. Image Via: Flow Home Staging & Design

4. Focus on Location

As for what should top your wish list, location is absolutely key. If you think about it, it is the one feature of your new home that absolutely will not change. Since you’re unable to alter it in any way, take the time to make sure that it will suit your needs for many years to come.

Before putting an offer in on a property, do your homework. Map out how long it will take you to get to work or school. Check the proximity to all essential spots like grocery stores and pharmacies. Make sure you’re happy with the amount of nightlife in the area.

It may be a good idea to have a few target areas in mind before meeting with your real estate agent. That way, he or she will be able to target your home search to properties that fit your needs. Make sure you’re home’s location is one of your favorite features.

Make sure you're home's location is one of your favorite features. I'mage Via: Chioco Design

5. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Once you’re finally get to start the showing process, it’s exciting and overwhelming. You’ll be seeing a lot of houses rather quickly. Sometimes it can be hard to separate one property from the other and to pick out the features you like the most.

In an effort to keep everything straight, many first time buyers have a tendency to identify properties by focusing on the small details – a wallpapered dining room or some vinyl flooring in the kitchen. But, continually focusing on the small details can hurt in the long run, if you decide not to move forward on a house because of them.

Instead, every once in a while, try to force yourself to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Is the house structurally sound? Does it require any monumental repairs? As long as those things are okay, small details like wallpaper can be fixed later down the road. Don’t let small details like a lack of upgrades turn you off a house with the perfect footprint.

Don't let small details like a lack of upgrades turn you off a house with the perfect footprint. Image Via: A+B KASHA Designs

6. Go In With Your Best Offer

Real estate is one of the few areas where sale price is still up for negotiation. Unfortunately, this means that many people, especially those like first-time home buyers who may be working on a lower budget, go in to the buying process with the mindset that they can try and score a deal on their new property.

However, by doing so you may actually be setting yourself up for disappointment. If their is another offer on the table, submitting an offer that is far below the sale price will almost certainly put you out of the running. Even if there is no other competition for the property, a super low offer may insult the sellers and they could decide to reject it as a result.

When you’re thinking of what price you’d like to put forward, ask yourself how you would feel if you received the same. If you would turn your nose up at an identical offering, consider going in a little higher.  This particular piece of advice comes with one caveat. If you absolutely love the property, go in with your best foot forward. However, if you feel lukewarm about the house, feel free to try and score a deal. When making an offer, put your best foot forward.

7. Gather All Your Inspection Information

It’s true. Home inspections are optional. Some people choose to skip them to avoid paying the upfront costs. However, especially when it’s your first time buying a home, we do not recommend skipping them. In fact, we suggest you gather as much inspection information as possible.

This is because inspections can often reveal hidden issues like expensive repairs. Plus, since buyers are still able to walk away from the transaction during their inspection timeframe, if you find that the repairs are too much to handle, you will be able to move on to another home that better suits your needs.

However, if you opt out of your inspections, you are essentially agreeing to take the home in its current condition, whatever that may be. If you happen to find a major issue later down the road, it will be your responsibility. Whenever possible, get the information upfront. Remember to collect documentation from all your inspections.

8. Keep A Level Head When Negotiating

Once you’re under contract and headed to the settlement table, every decision becomes a negotiation – who will shoulder the cost of repairs, what items will get left behind, even when settlement will be. The best thing that you can do in these situations is to work at keeping a level head.

It can be easy to get over invested in getting your way, particularly when making a decision that you are truly passionate about. But, remember that successful negotiations work on a system of give-and-take.

Stand your ground when you believe that you have a cause and try to do so in a polite and respectful manner. However, don’t underestimate the power of striking a compromise or ever conceding on issues that aren’t so important to you. You never know when that act of good will may be returned by the sellers. Prioritize during contract negotiations.

9. Don’t Tackle Every Improvement At Once

This is the biggest mistake that many new homeowners make. While it’s sounds like a great idea to get all of the annoying construction out of the way at one time, taking on too many improvements at one time is a sure way to become overwhelmed with your new home before you’ve even truly had a chance to unpack.

Instead, only focus on the repairs that are absolutely necessary to make your home livable. Then, live in the space for a few months before taking on any cosmetic fixes. Living in your home may open your eyes to better repair scenarios than you had originally envisioned.

Then, when it’s time to tackle those upgrades, take on one project at a time. Remember, presumably you’ll be living for at least the next few years, so you have time to make your mark. Update the rooms in your home one at a time instead of all at once.

Update the rooms in your home one at a time instead of all at once. Image Via: Jason Arnold Interiors

10. Aim For Resale Value

Let’s be honest for a second: It’s very unlikely that your first home will end up being the home you live in until you become old and gray. In a few years, you may need to relocate for a job or your family may grow.

That’s why when buying your first home you should focus on resale value. While it’s obviously important to find a home that you love, you should also focus on finding one that will appeal to others, if you need to sell it in the future.

As for what counts as resale value, think about things that appeal to the younger generation – first-time homebuyers. Things like proximity to shops and restaurants, curb appeal, and neutral upgrades tend to have mass appeal. Focus on making improvements that will add resale value to the property.

Focus on making improvements that will add resale value to the property. Image Via: Axis Mundi

Buying your first home is exciting, nerve-racking, and downright terrifying all in one. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we are here for you every step of the way. We’ve compiled a list of all the thing’s that millennals – and those who love them need to know before entering the housing market. Keep them in mind as you search for your first home and beyond. After all, you never outgrow good advice.

Millennials, what questions do you have about the housing market? What are you looking for in a home? Let us know in the comments below.