5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Purchasing a Home

1. What can you reasonably afford?

Before you decide whether you want a 3 or 4 bedroom home, you need to figure out what you can afford. That means taking inventory of your income, expenses, assets, savings and debts. Once you know where you stand it’s time to sit down with a financial adviser and review your monthly cash flow vs. the price of home you can afford.

2. Have you considered all the hidden costs?

Many people reason that if their potential mortgage payment would be less than their current rent payments, they should buy a home. The problem is, they’re forgetting all the hidden costs of home ownership. Consider property taxes, home owner’s insurance, Realtor fees, closing fees, utilities and maintenance. They add up!

3.  What will your life look like in five years?

While you might be financially ready to buy a home, it might not make sense with your current career path or relationship. Is it possible you could be transferred to another office? If you’re looking with someone else, are they considering grad school in the future? Just because interest rates are low right now, and you’ve crunched numbers enough to know you can afford the move, is it something you want to commit to? One of the most expensive assets you’re ever going to invest in is your home, you want to be ready to take on that responsibility.

4. What kind of neighborhood do you want?

If you’re a younger buyer, being in a metropolitan area might be important to your decision. If you’re thinking about starting a family in the near future, you may want to consider the quality of local schools, access to public parks and neighborhood safety. Decide on a few areas you’re interested in and start checking out the price range for homes. It’s good to start looking a full year in advance do you have time to review as many options as possible.

5. Are you working with the right Realtor?

Just like any other financial relationship, your Realtor must mesh with what you want for yourself. Don’t be afraid to conduct mini interviews with a few Realtors to compare the differences in personality and availability. One mistake many people make is using a Realtor just because they’re a friend or relative, not because they’re familiar with the right area. You owe it to yourself to work with someone who has the knowledge and expertise for the region you want to live.

SOURCE: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/9-questions-ask-buying-first-151451984.html


Refurbishing hardwood floors with coconut oil

Refinishing and refurbishing hardwood floors is something we do a lot of in midtown Tulsa, and I’ve discovered a miracle treatment for this project – coconut oil. Our hardwood floor are 100 years old and the 2nd story of our homestead was rented out for many years – so much traffic and much moving of furniture.  

The floors on this level of our home are much more used and show much more wear and tear. I saw on Pinterest one evening where a woman hadrefurbished a wooden desk with coconut oil, so I decided to try it on my hardwood flooring. I was pleasantly shocked at the results. And the reason I decided to refurbish them instead of refinish them is that the wood is now so thin, there’s really nothing left to sand off.

Here is the top of our stair landing where we shut the pups off when we have guests downstairs. So, there are more scratches from long nails and a lot of scuffling here. Enjoy the before and after photos.

Hardwood floor after coconut oil
hardwood floor after refinishing with coconut oil
cabinet before refinishing
cabinet after refinishing with coconut oil

After this project, I was showing a rather large (and expensive) home in south Tulsa and the prospective Buyer commented on the wear and tear of the pickled wood built-ins. So, I ran over the next day with my trusty coconut oil and below are the before and after photos of one panel. Of course, then my Seller purchased her own coconut oil and went over all of her built-ins and kitchen cabinets – huge improvement.

So, refinishing or refurbishing hardwood floors just got a lot easierthan when my Grandmother was on her knees with paste wax – and there’s hope for those than are worn thin. I’m sure a little extra buffing as the last step will preserve the work longer. More on that if I get that far.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to prepare your home for sale. Sometimes a little coconut oil plus elbow grease will go a long way.

Do check out my Pinterest Boards for more helpful tips, anddo please call if I can help with your real estate needs in the greater Tulsa area! 918-852-5036

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When to write a contingent offer in real estate

image for domino real estate transationsMy client relocating from Houston to Tulsa told me that he did not need to write an offer on his Tulsa purchase contingent upon his home selling in Houston. His closing date on his Houston home was scheduled a few weeks prior to a possible close in Tulsa.

I asked him if he could proceed with a Tulsa purchase IF his home in Houston did not sellfor some reason. Did he have accessible funds to purchase a 2nd home regardless if his Houston home sold?

Well, at first he looked at me like I was crazy, but admitted that he would NOT be able to proceed with a home purchase in Tulsa if his Houston sale fell through. What kind of predicament would he be in if the first domino did not fall?


“Then, you need to write an offer contingent upon the sale of your Houston home,” I replied.

A contingent offer is NOT a detriment if your home is already under contract. Yes, it slightly increases the unpredictability of the transaction, but it’s not the same as writing a contingent offer when your home is only listed for sale, but NOT under contract.

When you submit an offer contingent upon the successful sale of your home under contract, the Seller and Listing Realtor will want to see: (1) your executable contract; (2) that Buyer’s pre-qualification letter; and if available, (3) inspection reports and appraisal.

When to write a contingent offer in real estate

In this case, the inspections and appraisal had been completed, so no surprises there. Knowing that those two issues are out of the way will make them much more comfortable about accepting your contingent offer.

Everyone involved in a transaction deserves to know where everybody else is and what they’re dealing with. The quickest and surest route to a smooth transaction is 100% honesty and transparency when possible.

If you are relocating to Tulsa – whether selling a home elsewhere or not – I would love to welcome you to Tulsa and help you find the perfect home. Please call me to assist you! 918-852-5036

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Renting vs. Buying

I was talking to a client not long ago who was pleasantly surprised when she discovered that her home, which she had lived in for quite some time, was worth quite a bit more in today’s market than she had anticipated. When she shared this with a financial advisor friend of hers he was quick to remind her that she had spent a lot more money living in that house than only what showed up on her mortgage statement each month. Taxes, insurance, repairs and maintenance, when all factored in, he said, wiped out any gains she might have made as the value of her home rose over time. Talk about stealing the ornaments off a person’s Christmas tree. It left her wondering if owning her home was really worth it. Here’s my reply: you’ve got to live somewhere. And you have two choices: rent or buy.

Renting has an advantage. You are much more mobile. If you anticipate that you could be relocating soon or if your lifestyle is such that you know you need the ability to respond quickly to geographical changes, then renting is a good choice for you. If you’re just starting out renting may be your only option for the time being. But understand that just because you’re not responsible for the repairs if something breaks doesn’t mean you’re not paying for them anyway. And the insurance and taxes on the apartment are also factored into your monthly rental payment. And of course there’s the profit margin that the landlord figures in for his trouble. And it’s almost always true that the amount of your rental payment, if paid toward the purchase of a home, will buy you much more room to live in than your apartment. And no one lives on the other side of your wall, your car is in your garage, and you will never find someone else’s underwear in your washing machine.

But let’s go back to the costs. Currently, even though interest rates are rising, it’s still cheaper to buy your home than it is to rent your home in every one of the 100 largest metro areas of the US. And as we even consider this argument in some ways it’s rather comical. Today we’re talking about a national 30-year fixed rate of 4.8%, up from a historic low of 3.5% earlier this year. How quickly we forget that it wasn’t all that long ago that everyone was running to refinance when the rates fell from 7.5% to 5.5%. Personally, my first home loan back in 1979 had an interest rate of 13% (!). Those were the Carter years. We don’t talk about them now. Currently in Tulsa, according to Trulia’s Tara-Nicholle Nelson, the interest rates on a home loan would need to top 15% before renting would be less expensive. Rates are going up. But we can be reasonably sure they’re not going up that much. And what’s interesting about Nelson’s numbers is the fact that even if you don’t itemize your taxes and take your deductions for the interest paid on your home mortgage it’s still cheaper to own than rent by far.

A personal home is the only consumer item you can buy that increases in value over time. The basic reason is simple. We can’t make any more land. But we can make more people. That doesn’t mean there won’t be expenses involved in home ownership. But as I said before, you have to live somewhere. The expenses are going to be there. You should try to recapture as much as you can when you move. Only home ownership allows you to do that.

In the Tulsa area if I can help you buy or sell, please call me at 918-809-5199.

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What IS midtown Tulsa?

Midtown Tulsa – the best little corner in Tulsa

Midtown Tulsa is not just a geographic area – it’s a culture, a mind-set, if you will.

Yes, we love our historical neighborhoods and the architecture of our older homes, but midtown is more than that.

We have the highest walkability score in our city, and we have multiple public parks. Within two blocks of my midtown home are four parks: RiverParks, Veterans Park, the Creek Stickball park and the Creek Council Oak Tree site, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
We want to walk to our jobs and cycle to our activities. The expansion of the Riverparks has been a huge aid in these endeavors. In fact, our city officials are currently discussing plans to make our roads more bike-friendly.

We have the highest concentration of locally-owned businesses, and we support those businesses. Whether in Utica Square, downtown, Cherry Street or Brookside, we have many restaurants, groceries, pet supply stores and a variety of retail stores owned and operated by fellow Tulsans. We take pride in keeping our money local.

We love our farmer’s markets and local diners. Our farmer’s market on Cherry Street on Saturday morning has become quite the gathering place with opportunities to purchase locally-grown, organic produce¸ dairy products, meats, breads, soaps and more.

Ask Chinowth & Cohen REALTORS about midtown and enjoy our video – We GET it!

Most of the city’s 5K runs begin at Veteran’s Park and our ethnic festivals are found on the RiverParks, the Greek church at 13th & Guthrie or the German American Society which is on the border of the historic Gillette neighborhood.

But midtown is STILL about our historic neighborhoods and older homes with beautiful architecture – often still containing knob and tube electrical wiring. We regularly clean out tree roots from our sewer lines, because we refuse to eliminate our beautiful old oak and maple trees. We restore our homes steadily and patiently – always a project on the horizon.

And you’ll get different answers from different people as to the boundaries of midtown. I consider midtown boundaries to be Riverside to the west; Yale to the east (with the exception of White City and Lortondale); Tulsa University area to the north; and 41st Street (maybe 51st Street) to the south.

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Home Buyers: It’s the Monthly Payment that matters!

Home buyers are distracted by interest rates and mortgage insurance when they should only be focused on the monthly payment and whether or not that’s affordable. If you can buy a house today and keep your monthly payment under $800, that’s absolutely going to be less than you would pay in rent – and the most solid investment you can make.
 monthly payment for home
Yesterday my first-time home buyers Matt and Sarah closed on a lovely home in midtown Tulsa, and their monthly payment, including property taxes and hazard insurance, is less than $650 per month 
It’s a beautiful and spacious 3-bedroom home built in 1935 – with beautiful hardwood floors, large lot, partial basement and detached garage with a work area. Not only is the neighborhood established and attractive, this particular home had everything on their wish list except a second bathroom.
With FHA financing, the Seller contributing to their closing costs – and good ol’ Mom helping out with the 3.5% down-payment, these young adults made their first home purchase and a lasting investment. Their daughter Annabelle will grow up in the bedroom that has the window seat with the cushion on top and storage below – well, because that’s perfect for a little girl. Family meals will be prepared in the large kitchen and served in the formal dining room, as they have for the past 75 years.

And it will be their home where they will build lasting memories. All for less than a $650 monthly payment.

What was the sales price, you ask? Does it matter? We did indeed get a good deal on the house – a gem that we jumped on quickly. It appraised for $10,000 more than the list price, which probably made ME feel better than anyone else involved.  

Interest rates are rising and there’s no reason to believe that they shouldn’t or that they will drop at some point. NOW is a good time to buy.

If you are considering home ownership, call a local Lender and ask how much you can spend to keep your monthly payments at $800 per month or $2,000 per month – whatever fits your budget. Stay within your comfort zone and don’t over-spend.  

Don’t wait until you get your credit score up ten points in order to get a better interest rate. It will be a wash at best and may actually hurt you to wait. Don’t linger until you have more money saved up for closing costs. Don’t put off calling a Lender. Don’t be embarrassed to ask family for help.  

If you are qualified to purchase a home, contact a Realtor and start shopping now. And, if you’re shopping in the greater Tulsa area, give me a call – I pick out great homes! 918-852-5036

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Oklahoma: Art Deco, Style, Music and More in Tulsa

Tulsa’s famous Art Deco architecture, fine museums,  wonderful art collections, trendy dining and shopping venues along with our great local music scene were recently featured in the New York Times.

The article spins a litte Tulsa history and showcases our incredible downtown buildings and churches. It mentions the newest housing and the fabulous Juniper fine dining restaurant in the Blue Dome District.  The chic and esoteric shops and dining venues of Cherry Street, and two of our most famous music venues, the legendary Cain’s Ballroom and the historic Brady

The Gilcrease Museum and Philbrook Musuem of Art are also touted as great venues for fine art and beautiful settings.  You can read the complete article by clicking on the link below.


So I ask you this.  Why wouldn’t one want to live in Tulsa?  There’s always something to do, a place to dine, wonderful local music as well as seasoned performers and fun events throughout the year.

And where to live in Tulsa? Thoughout Tulsa are wonderful neighborhoods from historic to new construction homes.   Call me to find the home that suits your lifestyle and budget and start living on Tulsa Time!