Easy ways to save for a downpayment

          At one time, owning your own home was the American dream AND America wanted to help that be achieved. With no down payments and low interest rates things looked really good. Especially to those buyers who had no down payment and were able to purchase a house well above their means. And then came the “Housing Crash of 2007” which was named the worst housing crash and was said to have caused the U.S. to experience a near depression liken to the Great Depression. Finance laws began to stiffen and the American dream seemed impossible to achieve.

With determination and a plan, owning your own home is still achievable. Best practice is to consult your financial advisor for an overview of your financial goals and to contact a Mortgage Lender before home shopping. Searching for a home can become an emotional process, it is best to make way for those emotions by establishing hard facts. What is affordable to you? How much do you need for a down payment?

What is affordable to you? How much do you need for a down payment?

There are many different loan programs available and your Mortgage Specialist can help you identify which one is best for you. Perhaps one will match your needs that does not require a down payment or one that requires a small down payment. Whether it is 0% down or 20% down it has to come from somewhere.

Mid-America Mortgage Senior Loan Officer, Laurie Tatich says, “Typically, your down payment money to purchase a home comes from monies that are your own, whether in your back account currently or in some sort of a retirement account.  Gifts from family members may also be a source used.”

Here are FIVE ways to save for a down payment.

Open a savings account.

1. Open a savings account. This may seem obvious, but opening a savings account specifically marked for a down payment will earn you interest, as well as give you flexibility with direct deposit from your paycheck.

Set a budget.

2. Set a budget. This takes time and a reality check along the way, but is completely worth it. According to www.smartasset.com, “one rule of thumb to follow is the 36% rule. The 36% rule says that your total debt payments should never add up to more than 36% of your gross (i.e. pre-tax) income.”

Let’s say you are paying 25% of your current gross income on your current housing situation…you can set aside 11% in savings to go towards your down payment. In the future you may be paying 36% so why not learn to live on 64% for everything else?

With the end-game of home ownership in sight, setting a budget and sticking to it is worth it!

Pay off debt.

3. Pay off debt. Your credit and qualification for a home loan depend on your debt to income ration. Paying off debt will improve your credit, as well as free up money to tuck back into savings. Debt can be paid down aggressively and smartly. Your financial advisor can help you decide what is the best method.

Unplanned income means more money in savings.

4. Unplanned income means more money in savings. Grandma gave you $20 for your birthday? Save it. It’s your birthday so you think you deserve a latte? NO! You deserve a HOUSE! A few dollars might not seem like a lot in the whole scheme of things, but with interest added onto your Andrew Jackson it can add up. The goal is what the focus needs to be on, not that quick temporary fix of an expensive latte.

Be thrifty.

5. Be thrifty. Big expenses leading up to your home purchase are a bad idea. Your lender will want them explained, your credit might be questioned, and if your goal is a lake house, why would you buy two snowmobiles? Delay gratification on major purchases and wait until you get settled into your home. Put that money into savings. I guarantee those “once in a lifetime deals” don’t just occur once in a lifetime.

Bottom line, whether or not you get approved for a program that requires a down payment, when home ownership is your goal, it is best to save as much as possible. You never know what finances will be required along the way (eek! They found a leaky roof in the inspection!).

Mortgage Specialists like Laurie Tatich are here to help! Laurie can be contacted at Laurie.Tatich@MidAmericaMortgage.com. As your trusted Real Estate Broker, my job is to help you achieve your dreams, if you would like more ideas or help in finding that home, contact me at emily@pier13realty.com or 574-265-8471. You can also find me on the web at emilyshipley.com where all those fun social media links are!


Why Should I Snoop?

          October is for fall parties, pumpkins, hayrides, ghosts and goblins, and…skeletons in the closet. And nothing could be more terrifying than purchasing a home and finding out later that there are skeletons in the closet.

It can be fairly awkward when you are a potential home buyer walking through someone else’s home. There’s always a sense of invading their privacy. In reality though, sellers have given permission for you to be in their space and yes, look in their closets.

On average, potential home buyers spend 15-20 minutes in a home before moving to the next one on their tour. That really isn’t a lot of time when you consider the investment you’re making, not only the monetary investment, but the investment of “doing life” in a house. After all, you read labels at the grocery store for longer.

After all, you read labels at the grocery store for longer.

In the accompaniment of your real estate agent, it is okay to do a few things that will help you make a solid choice on such a big investment.

  1. Invade the bathrooms! Jamie Wiebe, writer for houselogic.com, points out that most  clients peek into a home’s bathroom for as long as they would want someone peeking into their bathroom- virtually a nano second. It’s okay to go into a bathroom, turn on the faucets, flush the toilet, look into the linen closet, and imagine functioning through your daily routines in that space. You want to make yourself aware of issues with water pressure or whether or not you have enough elbow space with your partner also utilizing the vanity. *Is it okay, to take a potty stop? Well, that’s your thing, but it doesn’t hurt to check water pressure.
  1. Howdy, Neighbor! Seeing two cars pull up to a home with a For Sale sign in the yard brings out nosy neighbors wanting to get the first glimpse of their potential new best friends. When you see a neighbor outside don’t be shy! It’s obvious what you’re doing there. Neighbors can give you information about the neighborhood and you can get a sense of how friendly they are. Neighbors can give you a wealth of knowledge about the history of the property and other quirky things your realtor might not be able to find out otherwise (like, why are there two dolls in the window?). While they might also be beaming with gossip about the current owners or about the house, keep in mind that all information should be verified.fence
  1. Storage storage storage! Before beginning your house hunt it’s important to consider the amount you need for your storage. Is that a problem in your current home? While touring prospective dwellings it’s okay to look into closets, crawl up into attics, and dig through basements. Remember you’re not looking at their items, you’re looking to see if your items will fit. Or if you’ll have to do some pitching (NOT the Christmas decorations!). Another good reason to be peeking into the attic or looking in basement storage areas is to spot water problems or damage done by animals/insects before they’re your problem.
  1. Carpet, wall paper, paneling- Oh My! If you had your heart set on wood floors, don’t let a little carpeting pop your bubble. Wall paper and paneling aren’t end-alls either. Yes, work will be required to remove any or all of these things, but truth be told, you don’t necessarily know what gems are underneath these cover-ups! Or why someone would apply paneling. At all. Ever.

 Or why someone would apply paneling. At all. Ever.

With your real estate agent there see if you can find a hidden corner curled up of                     wallpaper and investigate what’s underneath. You can sometimes pull up an vent                   and get a piece of carpet up enough to see if there are wood floors underneath. Be                   respectful of others’ properties and never force carpet up or wallpaper off.

          When in doubt what’s hidden- don’t hesitate to ask! Again, this is a big investment               and asking questions can keep you from years of disappointment…the carpet was                   really hiding layers of vinyl secured by roof tar (true story). Keep an open-mind when           you see carpet, wallpaper, or paneling. If everything else gets checked off your want               list it might be worth investigating further!

  1. Plan ahead, Get ahead. When looking for a home most clients will say this is their last move for a “long time,” because let’s face it, moving is the pits! Do you see yourself growing out of it in 3-5 years, will it be too big in 3-5 years? Is the yard going to be too difficult to maintain? All of these questions should already be in your thought process, but what about the less obvious. For instance, will the neighborhood allow a pool? Are there encroachments? Who has easement to the lake?

          While this type of snooping doesn’t happen at the house, if you are planning on                     building a new deck, digging a pool, adding a storage shed, etc., you can find out at                 the city planner’s office or have your real estate agent investigate.

House hunting can be taxing on your emotions, but being prepared and having a willingness to snoop can save you time and money in the long run.

If you are ready to go snoop in closets, give me a call! Part of my service is to provide you with a comprehensive checklist so you know exactly what you are looking for and to help you focus on issues that might not jump out at you because you are stuck in awe of the homeowner’s staging and warm cookies baking. Let’s go find skeletons!

Emily Shipley


5 Reasons to Purchase Land and Lots in the Fall and Winter

          Dispelling the myths that the season is over to buy land or building lots. In the fall and winter months here in northern Indiana home sales typically drop. Who wants to move furniture in the dead of winter? Land sales decline too. Who wants to think about building in the snow? When the seasons change and the gorgeous foliage is gone it’s hard to imagine your new home sitting on that “deserted wasteland”.

There are advantages to buying land in the fall and winter so before you head off to that football game or chili cook off, let’s look at the top five reasons.

  1. Your competition doesn’t hibernate.

Buyers have a visual resource in this technology era that keeps real estate active 24 hours a day. You no longer have to go wading through piles of leaves or plowing through snow to preview properties, including land. While you might think other buyers are hibernating, they aren’t. They are looking. And your dream location might be gone by spring, swooped up by your competition.

  1. Building takes prep, which takes time.

Timing is everything when it comes to building a home. The sooner your builder of choice can get out to your lot and start drawings and site planning the sooner your home can get started. Consumers aren’t always privy to the behind-the-scenes work of obtaining permits, soil testing, etc. Digging doesn’t just start on day of close, site prep, obtaining permits, etc. can take weeks.

  1. Weather is unpredictable.

Anyone who has spent any time in Indiana knows that the weather can change in an instant. No matter how many radars and satellites hover over the area the weather is ridiculously unpredictable. Most construction companies will work through rain or snow and in frigid temperatures, however, Indiana skies bless us with a few major “storms” that can delay your build by weeks. Construction companies can have your timeline down to a science and will do their best, but giving them a head start ensures that your time frame will stay on track. That inevitable weather delay won’t be such a big deal.

The inevitable weather delay won’t be such a big deal.

  1. Does it make financial sense?

If you see a piece of property or land that you are interested in, why not make an offer? Some would argue that it doesn’t make financial sense to purchase a property and sit on it. Scroll back up to number 2…Building takes prep, which takes time. It will feel like you’re just sitting on property while you wait for the big trucks to come and get started anyway.

If you purchase land before the end of the year the property taxes are prorated, which means instead of paying for a full year at closing you will only be paying for the last couple of months. In reality, taxes on land is less than taxes on a home so that’s a mute point to argue in the end anyway.

Another point to consider about finances…before your lot loan gets bundled into a construction loan paying on that will help make the construction loan seem less painful when that closes and you get your keys and your new mortgage.

  1. Seasonal landscaping advantage.

A dream of anyone moving into a new home would be to move in on their time…before school starts, before the holidays…it’s rare to find a buyer who doesn’t have those timelines or some like it in the back of their mind. If you are building a lake home wouldn’t you rather enjoy your summer in your lake home rather than watching your lake home being built? We already touched on those items (yes, I’m enforcing them), but let’s talk about landscaping!

Building in the winter is not too difficult anymore for construction companies, other than those pesky storms that come out of nowhere that cause headaches and delays. In the beginning of construction they’ll get as much as they can finished on the outside and then spend frigid days inside. However, planting trees, spreading grass seed, and fostering perfect conditions for bushes is completely dependent on the weather. Timing of finishing your home in the spring benefits the potential of landscaping and ensures a green lawn by summer, rather than enduring the summer months with brown, drab dirt surrounding your gorgeous new home.

In other words- there is NO excuse to waiting on purchasing a lot(s) for your new home! I’d love to help you get started! Call or email me today! 574-265-8471/ emily@pier13realty.com.


*As always, it’s best practice to consult your Lender to ensure your availability to purchase any real estate. I would be more than happy to help you select a Lender if you are not already working with one!

Tips for Buyers

By: Emily Shipley, Broker

Buying a home is tremendous personal investment, not only financially, but emotionally as well. While you may find your dream home, if you don’t have your finances in order you may not be able to purchase it. Also, three months after closing you don not want to have buyer’s remorse creeping in. Here are some tips that I’d like to share with you so that you are empowered during your home shopping experience.

Here are some tips that I’d like to share with you so that you are empowered during your home shopping experience.

#1 Avoid Major Purchases

The process of searching for your new home begins with your financial situation. Your mortgage pre-approval is subject to final evaluation of where you are financially. Avoid any major purchases including credit card purchases. Your lender will advise the same. Unavoidable purchases (new fridg because your’s just died) can be explained- save the receipts.

#2 Get Pre-Approved by a Legitimate Lender
There was a time when you could find your dream home first, then be approved. In today’s market, a lot of properties are requesting agents to only bring serious clients to a showing, in other words, clients with a Pre-Approval Letter. As your Broker, I can help you find a lender that will be honest and straight-forward with you and your specific situation.

#3 Find the Right Seller
It’s not only the right property, it’s the right seller too. As your Broker, I communicate often with Seller’s agents and make note of those Sellers who are “highly motivated”. This means that they might sell for than their home is worth, not squabble about requests to correct issues found on inspections, and won’t have issue with when YOU want to take possession. There are always issues that are unavoidable, but when a Seller is highly motivated, it becomes advantageous to you, my Buyer.

#4 Build a Plan of Action and Get Ready
Buying home is a BIG DEAL. One that as your Broker, I do not take lightly. This purchase isn’t like buying a new outfit or even on the level of buying a car. It’s a huge personal investment. One of the ways I can help you find the perfect home is for me to know your goals. Is it a short-term plan? A retirement plan? Having goals is important, so write them down and let’s talk about them.

A plan of action is also important. What is your desired timeline? A plan of action helps you anticipate the steps you need to take to purchase your home.


#5 Know the Market
The market, the buying and selling of properties, determines the prices of homes. Keep a close eye on prices, how many days properties are on the market, and watch the news for events (business closings) in your area.

#6 Importance of Inspection
Never purchase a home without an inspection. This is your opportunity to have an expert inspect the property and get a list of items that could be a potential danger or costly issue. Whether or not you plan on demanding the Seller correct these issues, while you are the owner you have an action-list of things to correct that will show up on an inspection when you go to sell.

Are you ready to get started? I’m ready to help you! If you need help with any of these tips, I am here for you. Emily Shipley 574-265-847; emily@pier13realty.com
Let’s do this!

How to Have Your House Show Ready in 10 Minutes

By: Emily Shipley, Broker


It’s the only dreaded call when you have your home for sale. No, it’s not the, “I have a buyer with an offer $50,000 under asking price” call. It’s the call you excitedly take from your realtor hoping it’s an offer. But, no, it’s your realtor sheepishly asking if another agent can show your home to a couple who just “has to see it” and they are 10 minutes away. And you just put your toddler in the bath tub and you’re pretty sure you didn’t clean up the dog’s “accident” in the living room. Everything in you is saying, “NOOOO!” but you know that if you weren’t serious about selling your home you wouldn’t even have it listed.

Rest easy, most buyers can overlook fresh water and bubbles in the bathtub (that’s staging, right?) or even dinner cooking on the stove (excellent staging, but never leave a stove unattended). However, first impressions are everything in a competitive market.

However, first impressions are everything in a competitive market.

If you’re my client you have diligently gone through both the “Pre-Listing” checklist and the “Staging” checklist (kudos!) I gave you when you listed, which is a great start. But, in the now 2 minutes you have (because your toddler threw a massive fit when told he had to get out of his “boat”), what do you do? What is priority?

Obviously, the doggie “accident”, but for the rest of you…

-Grab a laundry basket: make sure all your counters are clear of clutter and valuables especially credit cards and prescription drugs. You’re going to take that with you in your car so make sure you can still carry it!

-Hide wipes in your bathrooms and do a quick wipe down of sinks and counters. Make sure your toilet seats are down (and toddlers are really out of the bathtub).

-Laundry room a disaster? Stuff everything in the washer or dryer. Yes. Do it. You can un-do and finish it later.

-Keep baskets in your living areas to throw toys in really fast.

-They say that “light equals dollars” so…yank open those blinds and curtains and turn on all of your room lights.

Almost done…

-Run through your house like a moose is chasing you and spray room deodorizer. Don’t go over-kill though, chances are they did not bring a gas mask.

DONE! Your quick run through the gauntlet of your home may be a great investment of your energy. This exercise will also give you an opportunity to re-evaluate if you keep your home “show ready”. Read and re-read every Sunday my article “Keeping Your House Clean For Showings” (Click Here) to start your week off right!

Any questions or need personalized tips? Contact me, Emily Shipley 574-265-8471 or emily@pier13realty.com. And yes, before you call, that toddler was mine and my dog is still not house trained. Happy House Selling!

Keeping Your House Clean for Showings

by Emily Shipley, REALTOR

Cleaning Tip #1: Purge unwanted items

To make it easy for quick clean ups, get rid of items you no longer want or need! Don’t be bashful- you’ll never use that George Foreman grill anyway!

Cleaning Tip #2: Rent a storage unit

An additional expense? Maybe. The investment of a storage unit to keep things “out of the way” will go a long way to sell your house! If it’s March, store your holiday decorations at the storage unit. Clutter (i.e. extra furniture, knick knacks) don’t need to go in the garbage. Don’t distract your buyers with your “treasures”! 

Cleaning Tip #3: Straighten up every day 

Before bed run through the house and straighten up. If you’re tired from a long day, throw things you find out of place in a basket to be put away tomorrow. Remember that although you may have a “24 hour notice” request, your objective is to sell your house and you always want to be show ready!

Cleaning Tip #4: Clean a little each day 

Don’t get overwhelmed with a massive cleaning job every Saturday. Do a little each day. For example; Mondays: Vacuum whole house, Tuesdays: Clean kitchen cabinets and counters, Wednesdays: Clean bathrooms, Thursdays: Dust and clean windows, Fridays: Mop, Saturdays: RELAX!!

Cleaning Tip #5: Stay on top of laundry

Ugh. No one likes mounds of laundry. Let’s face it, homes with kids in sports have stinky laundry. Get into the habit of throwing in a load of laundry before you go to work each day and when you return toss it in the dryer. By the time you’re done with dinner you’ll have a clean load. Throw. Toss. Repeat.

It’s better to leave clean folded laundry out on your dyer during a showing then have a huge pile of smelliness coming from your laundry room!

Cleaning Tip #6: Hire help

It can be overwhelming to keep on top of your house and have it be “show ready” all the time! There’s no shame in asking for help! It’s a daunting task for anyone!

Invest in a cleaning service! As your Realtor, I can recommend you to some very hard working services who will gladly help you out once (think after a holiday party you’ve hosted) or on a regular basis! Here’s my number, text me now and I’ll connect you! Emily 574-265-8471