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Buying & Selling Houses


For someone who has had zero experience with real estate in the past, I’m sure getting pretty familiar with the buying and selling of homes now!

We have officially hired a realtor to sell my Dad’s Texas house (I orchestrated the sale of his Utah house over summer; it closed in mid-August). It needs some make-ready stuff so it’s not on the market yet, but should be within 2 weeks’ time. All the necessary work has been outsourced and is scheduled. Fingers crossed, we hope to net nearly $200,000 from the sale of this property.  I met with a financial advisor over Labor Day weekend while I was in Austin, but I wasn’t crazy about the person. He also does insurance and kept pressuring me to do an annuity and seemed a bit shady when I asked about fees, etc. Luckily, it was a free consultation so no money lost, I’m just out the time it took to meet with the guy (which was 2 freaking hours!!! and i literally had to get up and walk out because I had another meeting but the guy was STILL talking).

Any suggestions on ways to find trustworthy financial advisors? I had found this guy through Dave Ramsey’s site (he was listed as an ELP, even though the things he was telling me definitely do NOT align with Ramsey’s views).

Meanwhile, we’re also on the brink of buying our first home! Eeek! I’ve had quite a few suggestions to hold off for the time being (see this post) but I think we’re already too emotionally invested in it at this point. We found a house at the end of August and put in an offer over the Labor Day weekend. It took a couple weeks for negotiations (the “owner” is actually a company that does flips and – it seems – is not as eager as a physical occupant might be to sell the place. We went back-and-forth a few times, but it was at least 2-3 days to hear back after each offer/counter-offer). After negotiations our offer was accepted and now we wait for the inspection. My mom (a real estate broker) has warned me to stay guarded until we get a report back because, of course, it could be a game-changer. The house is 30 years old, so there’s that. If all goes well we could be moving in early October! Woohoo!!!   Oh – Also (!!!) – the monthly payment is actually going to be smaller than we’d originally planned. Even with the taxes included in escrow on a 15-year fixed mortgage it looks like the payment will save us probably $200/month off our current rental rate.  I’m trying to temper myself and not get too excited (since things could still fall through), but it’s tough!!! I’m already envisioning furniture placement, etc.

Aside from real estate stuff, this weekend is going to be jam-packed! We’ve got a playdate at the local (free!) splash pad on Saturday morning (probably our last hurrah of the summer), then “Parents’ Night Out” (a free kids’ care program offered by our preschool so parents can have a date night. They do 2 per year and its such a nice perk – and totally free!!!). Sunday I’ve got a long run planned in the morning (have I mentioned I registered for another half-marathon?  My third total, but second since I’ve been blogging here.) The half-marathon is in December but my training plan started a couple weeks ago and Sundays are my long run days. Then Sunday afternoon we’ve got a kids’ birthday party for the girls to attend. Lots of fun and mostly free events. Now I just can’t wait until it truly feels like fall weather here – it’s still hot as blazes in Tucson! Bring on the cooler temps!!!

Hope your weekends are hoppin’! : )



  • Reply Brooke |

    You should report that ELP to Dave Ramsey’s company – They are super sticklers about their folks staying in line with their company as it makes them look bad when they don’t!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I thought this, too. I may do it at some point, but it’s pretty low on my priority list. The specific guy I saw also had some Dave Ramsey award that he had just received over the summer – so super recent. I was kind of shocked.

  • Reply Jean |

    I was going to say the same thing that Brooke did about reporting the guy to Dave Ramsey.

    Could you get a financial advisor in Tucson for your dad’s money? At least it would be close for you to meet with them. Maybe the Dave Ramsey people in your area are better…

    I also echo your mom’s comment about not getting your hopes up until the inspections are done. HOWEVER, since it’s a ‘flip’ house you would THINK that all of the mechanicals would be in good shape. I actually walked away from a deal because there was an issue with the electric and the seller wouldn’t pay to have it fixed. (I felt a little smug because then she had to disclose it to any other potential buyers, which could affect the sale price.) The house I ended up with was definitely better than that one. But I’m SUPER EXCITED that your house payment would be less than what you’re paying for rent – even with a 15 yr mortgage! Maybe that would make it easier to walk away from your PT job.

    I admire people who are runners – that’s SO not me! Give me a Zumba class any day!

    I feel like we should just sit down & chat over a coffee (or glass of wine?)… 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks! The lender actually talked us into it. We were originally asking about 20 year mortgages, but realized the difference in payment between 15-20 is minuscule and we were able to get a better interest rate with the 15.

      • Reply Walnut |

        Your lender sounds pretty awesome. I wonder if he/she has a recommendation for a financial planner for you.

  • Reply Ashli @ The Million Dollar Mama |

    Congrats on the pending purchase of your first house – exciting! We’re in the process of selling our first house – not so exciting haha! If you can afford the payments, 15 year mortgages are the way to go! Think of all that interest that you’ll be saving – nice one!

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Good for you for walking away from the financial planner. He did NOT sound as if he’s a true fiduciary. Sounds more like he’s a salesman.

    The CFP board’s website has a referral link. You could try there: https://www.cfp.net/

    Also, this series at Wealth Pilgrim might be helpful when interviewing potential financial planners:

    But, yeah, you definitely want a fee-only CFP.

  • Reply Stephanie |

    I would stay far, far away from any Dave Ramsey advisors. Dave’s whole investment philosophy is built on active management (high fees) which has been proven significantly worse than plopping money in an index fund. We he advocates is so bad in my opinion, that I’d almost say it’s a scam. If you absolutely must get a financial advisor, get one that charges a flat fee per hour and doesn’t make money selling you things. If you want to learn to do it yourself, just about everything you need to know is here: http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/

  • Reply Jay |

    If anyone tries to put you in an annuity for a man who is in poor health – run.

    I agree with the comment above, you can do this yourself. Open an account with Vanguard or Fidelity and they will even help you asset allocate. Nothing wrong with dropping the whole amount in total stock market index(VTSAX) if you have a 5 year horizon and can tolerate a little risk. If not keep some in cash for his immediate care. If you use someone – ALWAYS ask about fees, and don’t buy anything you don’t like or understand. Don’t put it in an annuity that you couldnt access if you needed to – plus these have a lot of hidden fees you don’t see. If you do use an advisor, the general rate is about 1% and make sure its FEE ONLY – not FEE BASED.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for these tips! We have the vast majority of my Dad’s money in Fidelity currently, but all the investments were picked by my Dad. My investment knowledge is pretty limited (e.g., I look at the rate of return over the life of the fund, etc.) and really wanted to consult an advisor because (1) my dad has dementia so I don’t feel super comfortable just sticking with his funds blindly, and (2) we’re dealing with such a large sum of money (to me) that I don’t feel comfortable being the sole person who has basically been responsible for managing it.
      I know Fidelity has financial advisors on staff, so I may try that route. The thing I liked about Ramsey’s people is that they’re all independents so they wouldn’t be restricted to ONLY Fidelity funds. But Fidelity is pretty broad/varied with what it carries, so maybe that’s sufficient. I feel like I want to interview maybe another 2 people before making a decision.

      • Reply Jay |

        I have all my stuff with Fidelity. The good thing there is that they can advise you, but if you want to make a change at any time, just go online and switch it. No high pressure at all.

        You can check your balances/returns at any time(I do daily). Secret hint – Google “fidelity offers” for depositing new money. I just got a $500 Apple gift card for depositing money to my account! win! You could also get airline miles or free trades(but not being an active trader you probably wont choose that).

        If you do deposit the money with Fidelity, be sure to google that and click the link to activate the offer before you deposit the money.

      • Reply Jay |

        One more thing – Fidelity can purchase any funds, not just theirs. Many other funds in their network have an agreement with so that there is no commission. Others you would have to pay a commission to purchase but its spelled out. I haven’t ever found the need to purchase funds outside of their network. The only other broker I would consider is Vanguard, who is famous for low fees and passive(market index) funds. Good luck.

  • Reply AT |

    Yay, $200 a month is a good start to funding a maintenance revolving account. For a house that age, you will need it! It would be worth asking your mom about home warranties that you can sometimes buy (or the seller buys and builds into the closing costs, not sure). It might be worth it, depending on the age of the furnace, AC, appliances, etc. but they generally only cover the first year.

    Also find out what the replacement cycle on roofs is in your area. I lived in hurricane country for a while, where you were lucky to get 10 years out of a roof, but then moved west and 30+ years is normal. If your place is Tucson tile, it might even be longer, but you need to plan way ahead for that expense. And sewer pipe connections, that’s other big surprise for vintage houses.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you for the helpful tips! I know the place has brand new plumbing (to replace polybutylene pipes). It also has all new appliances and many other new features (the place was a flip). I’ll definitely look into the roof replacement cycle. I’ll know more, too, when we do the inspection.

      • Reply Maureen |

        New plumbing is good-BUT, are the lines from the street into the house in good order? My niece got burned on this (house similar in age) and it cost her $9,000 to fix it. It costs extra to have the lines scoped, but might be worth the investment. However, my niece resides in small town, WI where there are large tree roots that affect pipe lines. Unless, there is a big Saguaro in the front yard, that might not be a big deal, just based on climate and geography.

        • Reply maria |

          Sewer lateral…in some areas the seller is required to have an inspection done and fixed before selling the home, and disclose it at selling. Don’t know about your area, but something to look into. I had Japanese Boxwood roots invading the ancient clay pipes (1944 home). Cost $4-5K to replace (trench-less), but we only went to the sidewalk, not to the city connection. The plumber said it was fine beyond the sidewalk. Would have cost a few thousand more, but in hind-site, I think I should have plunked the cash down and done the whole thing.

          Having the lines scoped costs a bit, but it’s really the only way to know what’s in there and the condition it’s in.

  • Reply Kathryn Long |

    I work for a Financial Advisor. There. are some great articles on her website that may be of help to you. Feel free to email me and I can give you her website address.

  • Reply first step |

    Because it’s a flip house, you should assume that the repairs make the place look good, but not necessarily with the highest quality components or done in the most professional way. Flippers are in it to make the most money possible and that can mean a lot of short cuts compared to what you would have done if you had arranged the repairs/upgrades yourself. Be sure to attend the home inspection and look at everything closely, especially if the house has furniture that could cover up any areas.

    • Reply Kristina |

      What “first step” said, multiplied by a couple thousand. Any chance you can review the contractors that came in and did the work?

      • Reply Been There |

        We walked away from a flip-house done by a fairly successful flipping company because they put in a beautiful kitchen and bathroom, including lovely tile floors, on top of rotting subfloors. I mean, absolutely rotten. When I read the inspection report I was sick. Really look at those hidden things.

        However, the house we bought is SO MUCH BETTER and, although much newer, was flipped by a private individual after the house was foreclosed on during the housing crisis and the people who lost the house absolutely destroyed it on their way out. The flipper did an amazing job.

        Also, we pay maybe $20 more a month for homeowners (and it’s not a basic policy) than we did for renters.

        • Reply Ashley |

          Wow – that’s crazy!! So glad you had a detailed inspection that caught that stuff!! We have written into our contract that we want receipts from all the major updates (so we have access to contractor info that way). Also, hubs is a licensed flooring contractor so he can scope that stuff out on his own. But, yeah, there are definitely some “markers” of the repairs having been done by a flipper (e.g., instead of replacing the carpet, they’ve used little circle patches to only replace the stains – gross!!!)

  • Reply Chantal |

    Do you belong to your university’s Credit Union? We have had very good investment advice from two different one in the past for rather similar reasons– both inheritances, one small and one quite large. They were connected to UT Austin and Oregon State U.

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    For general financial literacy I think Jane Bryant Quinn’s books are very good. She’s a journalist and not into gimmicks. I find her advice to be solid and no-nonsense, unlike the flashier Suze Orman whose self-help guru vibe always bothers me.

    This is Quinn’s website, and while she doesn’t post often it does list her books. You could even check them out of the library before buying them.


    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for the tip about Jane Bryant Quinn! I feel the same way about Suze Orman (feeling kinda gimmicky). I’ll have to check out Quinn’s stuff!

  • Reply Shanna |

    I don’t think it can be driven home enough to get multiple inspections in a flip. You want beyond the normal scope of inspection. The entire point of a flip is to make the most money in the least time and is done by cutting corners in many instances. Flippers know that inexperienced buyers (especially first timers) will get, in your words I think, “emotionally invested”. They know a pretty kitchen and some decent curb appeal will cause even savvy people to jump the gun. You want foundation inspections, roof inspections, sewer line, etc. And if any of the report says that they could not inspect an area due it not being accessible (very common), pay more for it to be made accessible and inspected before you sign off on your contingencies. I am in the San Francisco area where a tear down in our neighborhood is over a million dollars so being very cautious is important, we have bought and sold several houses in this crazy market and it is hard to walk away from something beautiful, but it is better than creating financial hardship down the road. I wish you the best and hope your house proves to be in great shape and exactly what you want! And yay for you for 15 year mortgage!!

So, what do you think ?