The 7 Best Real Estate Tips AT Has Published So Far This Year

published Jun 13, 2022
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When it comes time to buy or sell your first home (or even your second), it’s hard to feel confident that you’re prepared for the complicated process of inspections, brokers’ fees, mortgages, and negotiations. And it’s one of the biggest financial commitments most of us will make in our lives. How can we best learn to buy and sell property, and all the responsibilities that come along with it? 

The decisions you make about real estate will play into every aspect of your life because you spend most of it in your home. In today’s world, our home is many things: sanctuary, office, day care center, gym, and classroom. So the more education we can all get on real estate, the better. 

We spent the past year talking to experts across the spectrum of the real estate market — from agents to brokers to designers to attorneys — and their advice has been invaluable. So to help you with this undertaking, I’ve compiled some of the best real estate tips that Apartment Therapy has shared this year.

Make Your Home Mental-Health Friendly

The world of real estate doesn’t usually call to mind “mental health,” but there’s always an opportunity to incorporate health and wellness into every facet of life. 

Realtors, home stagers, and designers have a few pointers on how to make our living spaces conducive to reducing stress and anxiety. Use nature as the inspiration for your home’s layout and decor. This can be as simple as designing with a palette inspired by plants, wildlife, and natural landscapes, a technique that has been known to elevate the mood and lower blood pressure. Open the blinds for natural sunlight, and if the weather calls for it, open the windows and let that intoxicating fresh air flow in. It’s no surprise that cutting clutter keeps us calmer, keeps our spaces and our minds clear, and makes room for the things that make us smile.

Go Back To School

If you’d always assumed buying your first house was one of those life experiences there’s no handbook for, you’d be wrong. It turns out there’s a variety of self-paced online education courses on homeownership. You can find local government offices and organizations that provide these low or no-cost classes offered in several languages, which cover topics like money management, foreclosures, credit scores, how to get a mortgage, and ways to find an agent. Search the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s database of their approved housing counseling agencies, or enroll in a class offered by the eHome Network, Freddie Mac’s Homebuyer U, or MasterClass.

Learn a New Language

Embarking on your journey to home ownership can feel like getting on a plane, taking off, and landing in a foreign country where you don’t understand the language. We often hear real estate jargon get thrown around in the news, on commercials and all those home improvement shows. If you’ve never purchased a home, you might not know what all those terms mean. All the unfamiliar words and phrases make the prospect of buying real estate really intimidating, but as soon as you learn them, the better off you’ll be. 

Side-Step the Open House

Credit: karamysh/

House-hunting can quickly turn into a time-suck, and a 2021 report from Opendoor finds that first-time homebuyers are even taking time off from work to search for a new house. Compass real estate agent Craig McCullough offered an unlikely piece of advice that will save house hunters loads of time: Don’t go to open houses. It can take all afternoon to get through a house tour and get all your questions answered when just a few on-site agents are trying to serve a large group of prospective homeowners. Instead, call the agent and ask for a private showing at a time that’s convenient to your schedule.

Start a Checklist

Is there anything more satisfying than checking off the items on your to-do list? This article can help you format a game plan with timeline-specific tasks that bring you closer to a home-ownership. You may be several years out from buying a home, but you can still start on a few assignments: lowering debt, creating a budget, and opening a high-yield savings account. 

If you’re planning a home purchase in the near future, skip to the tasks lower down on the checklist, like getting prequalified for a home mortgage loan, or signing up for foreclosure listing alerts and you may be able to get a better deal than if you bought a brand new or recently-renovated home. 

Skip (Some) Conventional Wisdom

You’ve surely heard the advice to pay down your debts as quickly as possible. When the debt is accompanied by a high interest rate, this advice certainly rings true. But mortgage rates have been on a downward trend, and in this market of high inflation, funds that would have gone to larger mortgage payments could be redirected to a good mutual fund. This is an idea you may want to run by your financial advisor to best maximize your returns on all your investments. 

Look to the House Next Door

Perhaps you’re not a first-time homebuyer anymore, but you are a first-time home seller. How do you prep your house before listing it for sale? What’s worth an update, and what’s best left alone? HGTV’s Leslie Davis and Lyndsay Lamb say the best starting point are tours of the homes next door or across the street. Check out the conditions of the houses, and see how the countertops, floors, and square footage compare to your home. This trick helps to identify the trends that buyers will come to expect when considering a home purchase in your neighborhood.