Category: Home Tips

Tips for Buyers on How to Buy a Home with a Tax Lien

Purchasing a home that has a tax lien.  

You’ve finally found your perfect home. The only problem is that it has a tax lien. Your friends and family may have told you to consider the lien a red flag and move on. However, you’re not sure. More often than not, a tax lien on a property doesn’t need to get in the way of your perfect home purchase. It’s simply a matter of doing your homework on the reason behind the lien, the amount it’s for, and whether the agreed-upon sale price will take care of the seller’s debt.

Property taxes are collected by state and local governments to fund public services and institutions, most often associated with public education, first responder services, and operational costs of local museums and parks. A lien is placed on a property when the homeowner fails to pay annual property taxes to the state or government. The lien is the amount owed and must be paid in order for the sale of the property to go through. Other forms of tax debt can also lead to a tax lien on the property.

If there’s a lot of money owed on the lien, you could be setting yourself up for a significant financial loss. Mortgage lenders take a more cautious approach. If you’re obtaining financing to purchase the property,then you will probably not be able to purchase a house with a tax lien on it.

If you need a loan to purchase the house, then you will most likely not be able to purchase as long as the tax lien is attached to the property. Most mortgage lenders require a first lien position on the property, and a tax lien will have first lien priority over the new mortgage loan. Therefore, your mortgage lender will require somebody to pay the taxes and have the tax lien removed before it will give you a mortgage loan on the property. In some circumstances, a tax lien may be subordinated which would allow the transaction to proceed.

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Curb Appeal Tricks to Attract Homebuyers

Make sure your client attracts homebuyers with these curb appeal tricks. 

Are you working with a homeowner to list their property? If so, you want to be sure that they pay particular attention to ensuring the outside of the house looks its best at all times. Buyers only have one chance to make an impression on a seller, and the front of the house is the first thing people will see. If it’s looking lacklustre, check out these tips to improve curb appeal that you can relay to your client. 

  • Give the front door a facelift – Give the front door a fresh lick of paint (or paint it a new, bold color!) and molding for a grand entrance to your home!
  • Painting or re-painting – This is a great way to drastically alter the home’s curb appeal and it may be the perfect option if you want to give your house a brand new look. Give the exterior walls some flair by picking a different (but neutral) color.
  • Change the light fixture – This brightens up the house while creating a safe and inviting environment.
  • Make the bed – Groomed garden beds indicate that the home has been well-maintained. Add some fresh, spring flowers, remove dead weeds and any debris to tidy and brighten up the front garden.
  • Prune and divide – Trim shrubs, making sure to remove dead branches. Get rid of dead or diseased plants in the landscape. If there are perennial plants that have gotten too big, divide them and plant them in other places around the landscape.
  • Trim the trees – The home needs to be visible from the curb so cut overgrown bushes and trees that blockage the driveway, path, or windows.
  • Wash away the dirt – Many homeowners never realize how dirty their house gets! Turn the garden hose to the strongest setting to eradicate any dirt from the house and driveway.
  • Fence around the yard – A small and neat fence is a great way to give the home a nice and cozy look.
  • Let in light – Clean the windows to make them sparkle.

Have more questions about home improvements? Buying and selling a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Should Home Buyers Buy a Property with Cash?

Talking to your home buyer about purchasing with cash.

Is your home buyer thinking about purchasing a property with cash? If so, make sure that they understand the implications of purchasing with cash, and the pitfalls that they could encounter. Although paying cash is still a far-fetched dream for many people, it’s becoming more common in the real estate market. Buyers should be mindful that it may not always be the right option.  Here’s what buyers should know.

Mortgage qualification

If you have enough cash to purchase a home outright, lenders will likely view you favourably for mortgage options. With a down payment of 20 percent or more, you don’t have to worry about mortgage insurance when it comes to a conventional loan, and you’re likely to receive a low-interest rate.

Loss of liquidity

Generally, it’s not wise to purchase a home with cash if you have just enough liquidity to pay for it. Cash is important to have on hand for unexpected disasters, such as a new roof or a medical emergency. You need to have some sort of a backup in case you lose your income.

Tax breaks

All homeowners with a mortgage receive a tax break on the interest paid to the lender. The interest you accrue when you pay on the loan is huge. If you choose to pay for your home in cash, you miss out on this tax break. 

Some buyers don’t realize they can close with cash and refinance right away to get a portion of their cash back in hand, while still keeping a possible interest deduction with financing.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

House Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice

Find the home of your dreams with these tips in hand.

In pursuit of the perfect house, it’s easy to get carried away by a potential home’s beautiful characteristics. However, it’s important that you don’t push aside the important stuff that you’ll be kicking yourself for later. If you are inspecting multiple houses, there is every chance that you’re going to end up feeling exhausted and frustrated. However, a few organization tips and simple strategic steps can help you find the home of your dreams without the stress and worry. Here are our tips to help you stay focused on finding the right home for your needs.

Set your priorities. Before looking at any houses, make a list of what you definitely want, such as three bedrooms or a large backyard for the dog. Then list features that you would like, but aren’t entirely deal-breakers. Once you only view homes with your must-haves, you can narrow down your choice and finally view homes that are right for you.

Take photos. When you start to house hunt, it can be overwhelming to remember all the homes that you’ve seen. Help to keep track of all the homes by taking notes and photos. That way you’re better able to remember which home was which. However, before you take photos, remember to ask the realtor for permission. 

Make a comparison chart. After you have seen multiple houses, make a spreadsheet that compares details of each house against your priority list. Remember to make notes after each visit so that properties are fresh in your mind. Include notes on landscaping, the condition of the roof, natural light in each room, time of day, storage space, and price.

Envision yourself in the space. Just because the current owner has the second bedroom set up as an office doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a home gym or baby nursery. Wall colors, furniture arrangement, and window treatments can all be swapped out, so use your imagination to put yourself in the home.

Look high and low. When we view a property, it’s easy to rush through the property to get the feel of it and view the layout. It’s important to take your time so that you look high and low, too, spotting any problems that may be present. Make a point of focusing on things outside of your usual line of vision.

Buying a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Is Buying a ‘Starter Home’ Still Smart?

Pros and cons of buying a starter home.  

As generations come and go, so do traditions and right of ways. When the Baby Boomer generation was moving into adulthood, it was common to buy a ‘starter home,’ often considered a modest, small property. As their families and careers grew, they moved into larger homes. These days, many individuals and couples struggle to come up with the down payment for a first home. They may even wonder if it is smarter to wait and save more money so that they can buy a bigger and better home to settle in. If you’re on the fence, here are some advantages and disadvantages that come along with buying a starter home.


  • It builds stability quickly.

A great benefit that often strikes most people is the stability they feel when they become homeowners. They may feel more grounded, less constricted by landlord rules, and part of a larger community. Finally, they can call a property ‘theirs.’ Many new homeowners enjoy decorating, entertaining, and enjoying their own space.

  • Builds equity.

Generally, when you get into your first home, you can realize some equity. If you can commit to a significant period of time, such as five to seven years, there’s a chance that you can come out well ahead. That is, if you keep up with home maintenance and improvements that add value.


  • Buying twice means moving twice.

If you think you’ll be ready to upgrade in just a few years, it could be more cost-effective to save and stretch for the larger house. That way, you can stay in it longer without the hassle (and expense) of moving twice in a short period of time.

  • You may spend more than you wanted to.

There are some definitive costs when it comes to homeownership, from property taxes, mortgage payments, to furniture, landscaping, and maintenance expenses. Some parts of homeownership are trial and error. If you’re not ready to be responsible for a load of expenses, you might be better off renting until you have saved up enough for a long-term home.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

3 Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Home to Sell

How to price a home accurately.

Pricing a home for sale is an art. It is something that real estate agents are trained rigorously at, so when you’re the homeowner, knowing where to start can be the first of many hurdles. The most important factor in selling a home is the right price. Numerous studies indicate that the longer a home remains on the market, the less money it will fetch when it finally does sell. So, how do you price a home without undervaluing it and without dooming it to stay on the market? These factors play a significant role.

The condition of the market. Generally, the market has been improving for some time now. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t dips. If you happen to be selling your home during a slowdown, you will need to price your home more competitively if you want it to move along quickly.

Comparative sold properties. Look at recently sold properties in your area that are similar to your current home. Since markets change quickly, it’s best to find comparative sales within the past three months. If you go back too far, you will see homes where a deal may have been made many months before it closed.

Fixtures and finishes. Buyers generally prefer a tastefully renovated home with neutral finishes and fixtures instead of an unrenovated home that is stuck in the ‘80s. If your home isn’t updated, but all of the comparable houses online are, you should face the fact you may need to update before listing the property or opt to take a lower price.

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Cleaning Projects That Protect Your Home’s Long-Term Value

Home maintenance cleaning tasks to do.

Every homeowner wants to protect his or her property’s value. While home improvement projects and renovations will certainly improve the value, there’s nothing quite like cleaning that will keep your home in good condition. Fortunately, these cleaning tasks help to retain your home’s value and are incredibly affordable. Here’s how to get started.

Wash the windows inside and out. Make the glass shine so that your property feels lighter and bigger. While you’re cleaning the glass, you’re also able to spot any cracks, chips, and winter damage to the glass and frame. Windows are expensive, so taking care of them is a great way to protect their value and your home’s curb appeal.

Check gutters and roof. While you’re cleaning the exterior of your windows, check the state of your gutters and roof. Any winter damage can be quickly repaired, preventing leaks and causing costly repairs.

Clean and freshen the front entry. Your front door and entryway is the first thing that people see. An overall sweep, a thorough hosing, and a quick polish to lights and décor can make a huge difference in curb appeal.

Wipe the fans. Ceiling fans are places where you wouldn’t think to dust, but they should be one of the first things you start with when you spring clean. Dust can pile up on the top blades of a fan and solidify. Be sure to wipe down the blades often with a mild detergent.

Clean the carpets. Whether you use a professional or a DIY machine, cleaning the dirt and dust out of your carpets at least once a year will make them look newer for longer. Your whole home will smell cleaner, too!

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to find the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

What You Need to Look for When Buying a Flipped Home

Consider these important factors when looking at a flipped house.

A flipped home is one that has been purchased, renovated, or remodeled, and is now listed for sale for a much higher price than what it was purchased for. In many cases, flipped homes are purchased by investors who are looking to purchase a home below market value, fix it up, and sell it for a good profit. While not every investor will cut corners, there are a few things you should look for when viewing a flipped house.

Look at the Details

It can be easy to get caught up in the amenities of the home, especially is everything is shiny and new. However, it’s important to look at the home’s details to see the quality of the renovation. Consider checking light switch plates to make sure they’re snug into the wall, check that the crown molding lines up at the corners, and even open and close doors and cabinets to ensure they’re the right fit. Since you might be the first person to live in the newly renovated property, there are some issues, technical or cosmetic, that may need adjusting.

Book an Inspection

A flipped house doesn’t necessarily mean a new home or even a property in good condition. An inspector can check the contractor’s work and see if any shortcuts were made during the renovating process. If a home inspector finds any major problems, you’ll have the opportunity to pass on buying the home or negotiating the purchase price.

Learn About the Seller

Ask your real estate agent for some background information about the seller who flipped the property. Were they new to remodeling houses? Do they have a portfolio of their previous work? Did they use reputable contractors? Successful flippers generally want happy homeowners with few to no problems.

Need help on your next real estate move? Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Is May the Best Time to List Your Home?

Top reasons why May is a great time to put your home on the market.

There’s nothing quite like the spring season! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and warmer days lie ahead. While May is the month to celebrate Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, you may want to add another item to your list – putting your home up for sale. While spring is a great time to list your property, May is particularly advantageous. Here’s why.

Timing allows for families to move before the new school year.

If they intend to move, families really want to close on a new home before the end of summer. Changing school districts after the school year has started is not fun for any family. Families will often start looking for homes in May with the hope to close on a house in July or August. More families looking means there’s a greater chance for your property to sell quickly!

Buyers are getting serious.

Although May is typically a seller’s market, buyers are looking to snap up a property before the summer season kicks off. Sellers who may have been looking since the start of spring may be eager to secure a home. Before the summer vacations, people want to find their dream property.

The weather is beautiful.

Sure, the weather in California is beautiful all year long, but May brings us colorful flowers and golden sunshine without the scorching temperatures. Of course, lovely weather also means lovely homes. Your home will look its best in the spring when the flowers are blooming and the grass is looking green.

Are you ready to list your home in May? Whether you’re a looking to buy or sell, we can help. Contact us at Dean Rathbun or give us a call on (888) 455-2847 to get started.

Home Improvements That Only Look Expensive

Home improvement projects that add significant value to your home – without the price tag.

Most homeowners out there are trying to save a buck…whether it’s through extreme couponing or through looking for ways on how to boost the value of your property. It can feel like home improvement projects require a large amount of time and money – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out these easy home improvement tips that make your home look expensive, but are affordable for all homeowners.

Make the Entry a Focal Point

You may not have the cash for a full-on exterior makeover, but improving your entryway can make a large impact on your home’s curb appeal. Use a dark hue to make the point of entry pop, and flank the front door with tall planters and a bright light above the door.

Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen upgrades are sure ways to increase a home’s value! Not everyone has the budget or time to remodel the kitchen, but everyone can do a bit here and there to revamp it. Start by painting the cabinets a more modern color. We recommend painting the lower cabinets a darker color (such as black or navy) and lighter colors (such as white or light grey) on the higher cabinets. This also gives the impression that the room is taller than it is.

Add Concrete

Concrete is a material that is rapidly becoming popular in homes and businesses across the country. Concrete can look sleek and expensive – without the price tag of marble or granite. Give your kitchen some extra character by adding concrete countertops.

Looking for more ways to spend your money wisely? Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to find the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.