Jeffery Birkenseer | San Rafael Real Estate, Novato Real Estate, San Anselmo Real Estate


Let's face it – the homebuying journey may prove to be an expensive experience. If you're not careful, you risk overspending to acquire your dream house. On the other hand, if you purchase a home without identifying underlying structural problems, you risk costly home repairs down the line.

Ultimately, it helps to establish a budget for the homebuying journey. If you have a budget in place, you can increase the likelihood of having the necessary funds on hand to overcome many potential homebuying hurdles.

You should have no trouble creating a homebuying budget, either. In fact, here are three tips to help you put together a budget for the homebuying journey.

1. Assess Your Financial Situation

If you intend to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, you'll want to take a close look at your finances. By doing so, you may be able to reduce your monthly spending and use your savings to accelerate the homebuying journey.

It often helps to assess your daily, weekly and monthly expenses. Then, you may discover bills that you can cut from your everyday budget.

For example, you may enjoy dining out regularly, but cooking at home may prove to be more cost-effective. And as you reduce your dining expenses, you can save money that you can use toward the down payment on a new house.

2. Obtain Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, your credit score can make a world of difference in your quest to acquire a house. If you check your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve your credit score prior to kicking off a house search.

You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can learn your credit score in no time at all.

Remember, your credit score may have a major impact on your ability to land a favorable mortgage. And if you find that you have a below-average credit score, you then can pay off outstanding debt to improve it before you start your search for a new home.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Pre-approval for a mortgage is ideal. With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a budget for buying a house.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer insights into a variety of mortgage options and help you make an informed mortgage selection.

Lastly, as you prepare a homebuying budget, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you hone your home search to residences that fall within your price range. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to avoid spending too much to acquire your dream house.

Get ready to buy a house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish a successful homebuying budget.


If your initial offer to purchase a home is countered, there is no need to stress. In fact, there are lots of reasons why you should negotiate with a house seller, and these include:

1. You can speed up the homebuying journey.

The homebuying journey may prove to be long and complicated. If you find a house you want to buy, however, there is no need to wait to submit an offer to purchase this home. And if a seller wants to negotiate with you, it may be worthwhile to work with this individual so you can acquire your ideal house.

A homebuying negotiation enables you to try to reach a house purchase agreement with a seller. Plus, if you and a seller cannot come to terms, you can always reenter the housing market and continue to search for another home that matches your expectations.

2. You can find common ground with a home seller.

When it comes to buying a home, it is important to avoid submitting a "lowball" offer to purchase. If a buyer submits a lowball property buying proposal, he or she risks alienating a seller. Worst of all, a seller may be more likely than ever before to reject the buyer's proposal and move forward with other offers to purchase.

Thanks to a homebuying negotiation, you can come to terms on a home purchase agreement that works well for both you and a seller. As a result, both you and a seller will be satisfied with the final terms of a home purchase agreement.

3. You can pay the lowest price for your dream home.

If you feel a seller's initial asking price is too high, negotiating with this individual offers an excellent opportunity to get the best price for your ideal house. And if you open up negotiations with a seller, you could acquire a terrific house at a budget-friendly price.

Of course, it is crucial to consider the seller's perspective during a homebuying negotiation. If you maintain constant communication with a seller, both you and this individual can work together to finalize a home purchase contract.

Negotiating with a home seller may be stressful, regardless of whether you are buying a house for the first time or have purchased residences in the past. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive expert support as you negotiate a home purchase.

A real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a house seller on your behalf. He or she will keep you up to date throughout a home purchase negotiation. Best of all, a real estate agent will do everything possible to help you purchase your dream house at the lowest price.

For those who want to achieve the optimal results during the homebuying journey, it generally is a good idea to negotiate with a seller. If you are willing to negotiate with a seller, you could acquire your dream home faster than ever before.


Household clutter is an insidious problem in many homes because it happens gradually and you may not notice it until it actually infringes on your living space and begins degrading your quality of life. As is the case with many problems, the first step to solving it is to recognize that you need to do something about it.

Clutter can assume many different forms in your house, but the effects are always negative. Whether you need to eliminate clutter in one room or your entire house, tackling the problem always results in a feeling of relief and accomplishment. By taking it one step at a time and focusing on the benefits of reducing clutter, you'll be able to create a positive "ripple effect" in your mind, your family relationships, personal productivity, and other aspects of your life.

Improved efficiency: Everyone knows the frustration of not being able to find something you're looking for. It's problem that may happen with increasing frequency when you're surrounded by clutter. By taking the time to sort through a cluttered closet, cabinet, garage, basement, or bedroom, you'll be able to eliminate junk, regain lost storage space, and find useful things that you forgot you even owned! When you discover belongings that your family has outgrown or stopped using, you can free up valuable space by either selling, donating, or throwing away unwanted items.

Psychological benefits: A room or home that feels cramped, cluttered, or disorganized is not at all conducive to relaxation, smooth family relationships, and feelings of contentment. If you're even a little embarrassed about the way your home looks, for example, you'll be less likely to invite family and friends over to your house. One of the benefits of actually planning a family gathering or dinner party at your home is that you'll be motivated to organize, clean, and straighten up many areas of your home -- everything from your kitchen and bathrooms to your living room and family room. Also on the plus side: Having a feeling of pride about the appearance and decor of your home is not only personally satisfying, but it can also benefit your social life!

Inspiration: Once you've reorganized your furniture, where needed, and created a more spacious feeling in your home, you'll often feel more motivated to apply a fresh coat of paint to scuffed walls, organize bookshelves, or replace old draperies with new window treatments. One thing leads to another. When you see what a difference a few household improvements can make to the look and feel of your home, you'll be inspired to find more ways to enhance your living space. With any luck, other members of your family will also be inspired to help keep the house looking neat, well organized, and clutter free. While you shouldn't expect any miracles or sudden transformations, remember: Rome wasn't built in a day!


If you’re in the market to buy a home, you want to find the perfect place for you and your family. In a seller’s market, the competition can be fierce. As a buyer, you may be under the impression that you need to make the highest offer in order to secure the home of your dreams. The problem is, you may never know what price other people have offered for the same home.


Know Your Budget


First, you should know what kind of a budget you have to work with to buy a home. You probably have done an online search to see what’s out there and what price range the homes you like fall into. You’ll want to go beyond the online search and actually see some of your favorite houses in person because pictures can be deceiving. 


Next, you’ll want to do is speak with a lender. This can help you before you even hit the ground running on your home search. A lender can pre-qualify you then work you through the process of pre-approval. This will give you a definitive number to work with when searching for a home. With this number, you’ll know how much you can offer comfortably when you find that house you fall in love with.


Make A List Of Priorities


Finding the “perfect” house usually requires that you make a few compromises along the way. It’s very unlikely that you’ll find one house that gives you everything you want in one place without a bit of imagination. Jot down all of the things about a home that are the most important to you. These items could include:


  • The neighborhood
  • Big backyard
  • Open floor plan
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Hardwood floors
  • The size of the rooms
  • Style of the house
  • Granite countertops


Whatever is important to you should be on the list. Next, go through the list and see what can be compromised on. There are probably a few luxuries on the list that you could stand to give up in lieu of something else.  


The Offer


Once you find that home you know that you absolutely want to live in, you’re going to want to make an offer. Let your realtor know immediately that you’re interested in the home and they can get to work. Your realtor can help you to make an offer that’s reasonable based on the asking price and your budget. Your offer doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars over the asking price for you to win the bid. There are a couple of strategies that can help you to land the right home even if you’re not stretching your budget to the max.


Showing You’re Serious


Taking steps like being pre-approved and having all of your finances in order can help to give you the upper hand in the house hunt. Sellers don’t want to deal with a buyer who is ultimately going to have issues where the deal will fall through.


The Offer Letter


Writing a letter along with your offer is a great personal touch to help you land the home of your dreams. If a seller knows that the home they have lived in and loved will go to another owner who is going to appreciate and take the same great care of the home, they will be more likely to go with you as a buyer. First, tell the seller a bit about yourself and why you love the home so much. Compliment the landscaping. Tell the seller just how much your kids are going to appreciate living in the home. Don’t be afraid to get too personal when it comes to writing an offer letter to the sellers. They will appreciate honesty and a candid approach in the sometimes all too serious matter of buying a home.


When it’s time to buy a new home, you’ll hear a lot about the importance of location. How can you choose a place? Whether you’re moving around the corner or across the country, there are a few essential things that you should know in order to select the best place for you to live. Read on for some questions that you should ask yourself when trying to find a good fit for a  location to live. 


What Should Be Close?


There’s more to a home than what schools are nearby or how close you are to work. While these things are essential, you’ll need to understand more about our lifestyle to find an excellent location. You’ll have to look at your life and your family’s life on a day-to-day and weekly basis. What types of activities do you enjoy? How close do you want to be to a grocery store, a gym, or a shopping center? How close do you want to live to the city? The mountains? The beach? Does your family enjoy outdoor recreation like hiking or walking through the park? Making sure that the things that are important to you and your family are accessible will be a big part of choosing a location to move.


How Walkable Is The Neighborhood?


If your kids will be walking t school, or you enjoy daily strolls with the family dog, the walkability of a neighborhood is important. Many places allow you to walk everywhere right out your front door to the grocery store or the hair salon without ever setting foot in a car. You may even want to be able to walk to a bus or subway in order to get to work each day. Walkability is an important aspect to consider when looking at home locations. 


Who Lives Nearby?


You may want to consider who lives nearby when looking at different neighborhoods to move. If you wish to live near family or know some good friends who live close, this could be a good starting point for finding the right location to live. It’s always easier to make the transition to a new area when you know a few people.


How Quiet Is Too Quiet?


Some people love peace and quiet. Other people need a lively environment that allows them to access the hustle and bustle any time they choose. Knowing your want for peace is a big lifestyle choice and a large part of selecting a location to live in. The closer you move to a big city, the easier your access to the more exciting side of life will be. The further away you live from the city, the more likely you are to have more quiet.