Most of the homes my husband and I looked at were empty, so we didn’t worry about overpaying for a well-staged home. I think the home we made our first offer on sold for too much because it showed well. Don’t let yourself overpay by falling in love with the dressings. Here are my top ten tips for evaluating a home.

Ignore the Furniture
For the most part. If the dining room has a really small table, that could be because it’s too small for you. Measure the space. At the same time, you’re not buying the table, so don’t let a table set with fine china and nice linens con you. People stage homes for a reason – buyers pay more for staged homes.

Ignore the Paint Colors
My husband and I have watched several home buying shows, and we always see people commenting that they don’t like the paint or the couch. You’re not buying the paint! Paint is the easiest thing to fix. We saw one home with no less than three different types of hideous wallpaper and bad paint. We looked past that for the structure and layout.

See What’s Next to the House
We really liked one house, but it was next to the pool for a large apartment complex and had a rickety, low fence. The first house we made an offer on also had an apartment complex behind it, but you couldn’t see it because the owners had planted tall hedges that provided privacy. We checked Google maps to see what was behind each house and make sure it didn’t backup onto a school playground or popular pool.

Ignore Minor Landscaping – Good or Bad
This is another trick. If a home is nicely dressed up with pretty flowers, it attracts buyers. Dead plants make some people drive right by. You can plant new flowers and mow the lawn once you move in, so don’t let that be a factor. However, you should check out major landscaping issues like a solid concrete backyard or a big dead tree.

Take Pictures
Lots of pictures. Then you can send them to friends or relatives for their opinion or refresh your memory about particular features. If you like the staging, take pictures so you can buy similar items when you do find a house.

Look for Deferred Maintenance Issues
It’s common for a house to have some minor maintenance issues, like a few spots that need paint, but you need to watch for potentially expensive issues, like an old roof, extensive visible termite damage, an old HVAC unit, or old windows. All of those will need to be fixed or replaced and you should factor it into your budget when deciding on a price.

Take Your Time at Each House
Many people spend as little as 15 minutes in a home before making a decision. While you can know for sure that the house is wrong for you in 15 minutes, you can’t know that it’s right for you. Take your time walking through the home and discussing it. Completing the checklist and taking pictures helps you do both. We probably spent an hour in each of the homes we made offers on.

Imagine Where You Would Put Your Furniture
This is where the measuring tape comes in handy. Measure the bedrooms to be sure your bed will fit, especially in older homes. Try to picture your own furniture in the house. Can you imagine yourself actually living in and using the home?

Drive Around the Neighborhood
After leaving a home you’re pretty sure you want to make an offer on, drive around that neighborhood specifically. Find the local park, the nearby school, and other local amenities that are a part of the living experience. Make sure it has what you need.

Get a Second Opinion
I’ve said it before, but this was key for us. Each time we considered making an offer on a home, we sent the pictures to my parents and then called them to discuss. They wouldn’t talk us into or out of a home, but they would point out things we might not be considering.

Obviously, there will be some emotion in the purchase, but you need to use common sense to make the final decision on such a major purchase.

When my husband and I started looking for a house, I reviewed several online home checklists. Most of them either had too many details or not enough, so I created my own in Excel. You can download the Home Checklist and print it to help your own home search.

House-Hunting Made Simple
Along with this checklist, which we attached to a clipboard, we brought a tape measure and a digital camera. The tape measure helped us complete some details and really assess whether the dining room or bedroom was large enough. The checklist ensured that we didn’t forget details. The pictures reminded us of what it actually looked like.

Customize Your Checklist
My house checklist is just a template. You may have other things that are more or less important to you. For example, I had to see a place in the kitchen where I could fit my stand mixer and it had to have a full-sized oven (as opposed to the tiny original oven common in 1950s homes.) We also needed a place to put the litterbox. You’d think that would be easy, but it wasn’t in some homes.

Completing the Checklist
Once you and your real estate agent have compiled a list of homes, print out a checklist for each one. Before we left our apartment, I completed the address, asking price, neighborhood, square footage, and year built portions of the checklist.

Home Review
Once we reached the home, we walked through it and noted our observations. One of us held the clipboard while the other handled the camera. As we walked, we noted the size of each bedroom, the condition of the floors or kitchen, things that would need replacing or that we really liked. The checklist tended to be more complete in the early homes we looked at, and then on homes we really liked.

School Data
Before we even went to a house, I used the LAUSD’s SchoolFinder search to verify the school associated with the house. If it wasn’t on my list of preapproved schools, we didn’t see the house. If schools are important to you and you live in an area of mixed school quality, investigate local schools when initially researching potential neighborhoods. I used to find test scores and student body profiles.

For us, the percentage of students receiving free or subsidized lunches or taking English as a Second Language were important factors aside from test scores. In general, I wanted to see an API average over 800, ESL ratio under 25%, and free lunch under 50%. I chose those numbers because I feel that students at schools with higher ratios will receive less educational support at home than my children will. Schools are personal decisions, so you should adjust these fields accordingly.

After we visited a house, I entered the current data on the checklist to make easier to compare potential houses.

Neighborhood Data
If we liked a house, then I completed the neighborhood data to make sure it met our other requirements. I used to find nearby parks, libraries, grocery stores, movie theaters, book stores, clothing stores, etc. Then I used for demographic data. The demographics helped us rule out a house when we discovered that there were more people in the 50-59 bracket than the 30-39 bracket, which was important to us.

I kept all of the checklists so we could go back and compare them, or to help us decide on an offer price. If we made an offer, I noted the offer price at the top of the form.

I’m an analytical person, so the home checklist was important to me. You might not need to be as detailed. However, a home is usually an emotional purchase. Using a checklist helped us take some of the emotion out of the equation. Of course, a house could be perfect on paper and not set our hearts racing, but the checklist brought us down to earth when we were on the verge of falling in love with one that wasn’t right for us.

A few months ago, I posted that I loved Everbank for its high rates and good customer service. Well, the bloom is off the rose, as they say.

This weekend while reading Consumerism Commentary, I learned that they increased their minimum monthly balance to $5,000 and raised the monthly low-balance fee to $8.95. I checked online, and it did indicate the new limits, so I called the bank. They said the minimum became effective July 1, and notices were sent out in May. I didn’t receive a notice.

I used this account primarily to hold my down payment funds, and happily took advantage of the nearly 4% initial interest rate to earn lots of interest on that money. Now there is less than $10,000 in the account, and my husband and I had just decided we will use some of the money to fill our new house. We also plan to use our savings account to accrue property tax and homeowner’s insurance payments.  Finally, the account will serve as our emergency fund.

We’re Changing Banks
At first we considered sticking with Everbank, but now we’ve decided that we don’t want the limitation of the high minimum balance. We also don’t want to worry about getting hit by a $9 fee if we have an emergency and have to go below the minimum. No other national online bank has a minimum balance requirement. We also no longer have the high teaser interest rate. Our current rate is almost on par with other online banks. At this point, Everbank’s thank you notes aren’t enough to keep me around. I’ll be moving to a different bank that won’t whack me with a fee for using my money.

What’s the Motivation for This Uncompetitive Move?
This is what truly baffles me. If none of your major competitors have a minimum balance, why would you increase yours from $1500 to $5000? It seems like a sure way to drive depositors away.

How to Close Your Account
This is the tricky part. If you drain the account and THEN close it, you won’t receive it accrued interest that hasn’t yet posted to your account. If it’s enough money to make a difference, notify them of your desire to close the account first and use their process to ensure you receive the interest.

It’s getting tough to find a good bank, but my hunt is on again. Oh, Everbank, why do you plague me so?

The first thing we need to buy for our new home is a washer/dryer set. I’ve wasted a lot of time by going about this in the wrong order. Now you get to learn from my mistakes. Most of these tips will also hold true for any appliance, but we’ll start with the two I need now.

Measure the Space in Your Laundry Area
This is key. I wasted a lot of time by not measuring the space in the laundry room one of the 3 previous times we were in the house. Thankfully, I measured on Saturday before we placed an order for a washing machine or a dryer. We’ve spent days debating whether to get a front-loader or a top-loader, only to discover that front-loaders are too deep to fit into the allotted space. You should also note where the machines will need to be placed. If you plan to get front-loaders, make sure the doors open in opposite directions and open to the edges of the room rather than the center.

Note the Hook-Up Types
While measuring, check the connectors to confirm whether you have gas hook-ups or need an electric dryer. Gas dryers cost more up-front, but save you a lot of money on electricity. You could have a gas line installed, but you have to weigh the costs carefully, and have it done before installing a gas dryer.

Browse Styles
Now that you know your limitations, browse the different styles to get a feel for what you like. I like the water savings of a front loader, but worry about child and pet safety because you have to keep the doors open after using them to prevent mildew. Ultimately, the point was moot, but it was something we checked out because we shopped in the wrong order.

Read Online Reviews
I’ve actually been doing this throughout the process as we homed in on our desired products. I subscribed to Consumer Reports to get their take, but also browsed online reviews at Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot, and AJ Madison. One washer I liked got terrible reviews at all four, so I struck it from our list.

Establish a Budget
Do this early. Get a feel for what you like and then set a budget. Then you can look for sales to bring that price lower. Make sure that price fits in your household budget for major purchases. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to scale back or buy it as a scratch and dent.

Research Rebates
Many utility companies offer rebates for buying energy-efficient appliances. Check your local utility and then print out a current list of qualifying products. Unfortunately, DWP changed their list on July 1 to exclude most energy-efficient top-loaders. If we could fit a front-loader in the space, the rebate would save us $300, but we can’t.

Research Prices and Retailers
We looked at several retailers and noted the differing prices at each. I’ve also been monitoring sales to get a feel for how often they occur and how much the discount is. I’ve compared online stores, but the shipping rates usually outweigh any purchase savings because they only offer free shipping on purchases over $2000. We’re aiming to spend $1200 including tax and delivery. I also researched the prices at the Sears Outlet, which is our local scratch and dent store.

Research Installation Prices
You have to decide for yourself whether you want professional installation. Before ordering it, check with your local gas utility to see what they charge for installation. It may be half the cost of installation by the retailer. You can also buy a washer and dryer installation kits online or at a hardware store for $20-$40. If you’re handy, you can hook it up yourself, although you should have the gas company check for leaks. Most gas companies will do this free as

On Friday, I detailed the start of our road to homeownership, which stretched over a year and a half from the initial “we might be able to afford a house” to the “let’s hire a real estate agent” stage. Now I’ll tell you how we finally reached the end.

Careful Thinking about Each Home
All told, we looked at exactly 50 houses, including the open houses. Of the 29 open houses we saw, we liked 3 enough to consider making an offer. They were sold by the time we started looking for real.

Once we started working with an agent, we saw another 21 homes. The first home we considered making an offer on was huge and beautifully upgraded, but it had a weird layout, especially in the kitchen. The second home we considered making an offer on was a fixer foreclosure. Not terrible, but in need of major updating. However, the location killed it for us. With both of these, I lost sleep trying to decide whether to make an offer. However, my husband and I realized that if we didn’t know right away, that meant it wasn’t the right house for us.

Offer 1
The first home we made an offer on was fantastically upgraded. We decided to offer 8% less than the asking price because the sellers were asking too much. We met our agent at a coffee shop to sign the offer paperwork, then waited, and waited, and waited. We were finally outbid four days later, without ever getting a response from the seller. We recently learned that it sold for more than the listing price. We don’t think the home is worth that.

Offer 2
The second home we made an offer on was a short sale that was foreclosed a week later. We made a full price offer, because it was priced appropriately, possibly even a little low. We really loved that home, and still love it, but it was not meant to be. The foreclosing bank is notorious for rejecting short sales, but we had a stressful week waiting to see if they accepted our offer anyway. And then another stressful week waiting to see whether or not it had actually been foreclosed and if the bank would accept our offer post-foreclosure rather than re-list it. That was also a no.

Offer 3
The third home we made an offer on was a foreclosure in great condition. This was house #48 in our list of 50, because we saw three homes that day and then one a couple days later. We were in a multiple offer situation, but came out with the winning bid and went into escrow. It’s 2 blocks away from the first house we made an offer on, but it’s 450 square feet bigger, and 10% cheaper. We’re really happy about that!

Tip: Multiple offers on REOs are not the same as bidding wars for traditional sales. With REOs, the seller doesn’t come back with a minimum bid for the next round, just “highest and best.” You have to be careful not to overbid yourself because you’re basically involved in a blind silent auction.

Then came the flurry of documents, inspections, reports, appraisal, more documents, and then waiting. We probably produced two inches of paper in escrow. We sweated the appraisal, but the inspection was easy.

Tip: If you’re planning to buy a home, invest in a scanner or printer/scanner. Our agent could email us offers and documents to sign that we signed at home, then scanned and emailed back to her. It saved a ton of time.

On the day of the escrow signing, we re-signed many of the loan documents we’d already signed, along with some new ones. Now we just wait for the deed to record before we get the keys. That will be followed by another flurry of painting and moving. While we wait, we’re doing the following:

  • recalculating our tax withholding
  • updating our monthly cash flow budgets so we set aside money for property taxes and next year’s homeowners insurance payment
  • collecting paint chips
  • packing
  • getting mover estimates
  • getting flooring estimates (verbal)
  • prioritizing/extending our project list.

Once we get those keys, we’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, then you know that I’ve been looking for a home. I’m not yet officially a homeowner, but I signed my life away yesterday, so it’s time to share the long and sometimes torturous story of how that happened.

Deciding to Become a Homeowner
My husband and I thought it would be a long time before we could afford a home. Then the market turned. Condos seemed to drift within reach. Then the market collapsed. Suddenly we were considering actual houses.

We started in 2007 by randomly visiting condos to get a feel for our taste. We only did it a couple times. In late 2007, we started to pay down debt so our debt to income ratio would be reasonable. In late 2008, we paid off a good chunk of debt and started working on the down payment. We also budgeted out what we thought we could afford at that time – a safe, conservative number, not a stretch number. We included future goals for our income, like childcare and retirement, in our budget.

Visiting Open Houses
In January, 2009, it was time to get serious. We started by visiting 3-6 open houses each Sunday for a month in different potential neighborhoods. This allowed us to see what was potentially available.

Tip: When visiting open houses, keep the listing sheets. Note what you did and didn’t like about the home. Flag those you really like as a guide for your agent when you hire one.

Speaking to a Mortgage Broker
Around this time, I also called a mortgage broker friend to get pre-approved. Rather than let him run our credit and see how much we could qualify for, I told him the monthly payment with taxes and insurance that we believed we could afford. I listed our income and debts and then he ran our credit to give us a max purchase price. We used this to guide our open house visits – there was no point in looking at homes we could never afford.

Hiring a Real Estate Agent
By March, we’d narrowed down our options and decided to get serious. Our initial goal was to buy by May. Ha! I interviewed a couple of real estate agents and chose one. I sent her the listings for the few houses we’d liked. She then pulled a few initial listings for us to go look at. She also had us get pre-approved with a bank that she’s worked with. If you’re looking at foreclosures, most banks want to see an approval from a bank rather than a broker.

Taking Detailed Notes about Potential Homes
We created a home-buying checklist that I’ll be posting shortly with detailed instructions. Our real estate agent said we were the most prepared buyers she’d ever seen. In addition to our checklist, we also brought a digital camera and a measuring tape. Interestingly, the types of homes we could look at changed drastically once we hired the agent. As time passed, larger homes also become available within our price range.

In my next post, I’ll review each of our offers and how we came to make them. Once we started working with an agent, it still took us 6 weeks to find a home worth making an offer on, and more than 3 months to actually get an offer accepted and go into escrow. That’s partly because the market completely dried up thanks to lender skittishness and foreclosure moratoriums. Nevertheless, we stuck it out and emerged victorious.

There have been a couple of recent high profile losses of large amounts of stolen money. Most of us aren’t in the habit of hiding a million dollars in the mattress, but you probably have a few dollars stashed somewhere in your house. So where are the best and worst places to hide money?

Best Places to Stash Money
The Bank
Unless you’re Al Capone, a bank is the best place to stash large sums of cash. It’s not earning interest sitting under your bed. My friend’s father was a WWII immigrant and didn’t put much faith in banks. One night, he decided he would be dead by morning and revealed a shoebox full of $8000 to his wife. He didn’t die, and was so angry that he moved the money the next day. However, he did finally die a few years later and his wife and children found $30,000 hidden throughout the house. This, I would consider extreme. Even at 1% interest, $30,000 over 30 years adds up to an extra $10,495. That’s not pocket change.

Your Emergency Kit
If you live in a disaster area, then you should have an emergency kit. In addition to food, water, flashlights, etc., you should also have a few hundred dollars in cash. If the power goes out, your credit and ATM cards may not work, but cash is accepted everywhere. In this case, your goal is not to protect it from burglars, but to be ready for an emergency.

Inside Toys
If you have kids, buy a toy with a Velcro compartment and stash some money in there. Put the toy with the rest of the toys. Then make sure you child doesn’t leave the house with the toy!

Worst Places to Stash Money
Your Mattress
Not just in the mattress, which sounds horribly uncomfortable anyway, but under it. Burglars know to look there, which makes it an unsafe option. You also shouldn’t hide the money under the bed, because once the mattress has been tossed, you’re hiding place is easy to access.

In the Underwear Drawer
Once again, not a great choice because it’s a cliché. Frankly, if I were looking for a place to hide money from burglars, I’d list the first 20 places I could think of and then rule them out as being too obvious.

A Money Hiding Kit
You see these advertised on TV as cola cans, chip cans, and other items that are supposed to disguise the money. Here’s my problem with that – first, don’t you think the robbers know what those look like? Second, what if you have a guest or worker who sees the item, tries to enjoy the snack, and then finds the money. An unscrupulous guest or worker might take it. You could decide not to keep it in the kitchen, but then it’s even more obvious.

PF Advice had an article with more places to hide money. It got me thinking – when you’re trying to stash money, think like a burglar. Imagine what you would do if you were ransacking a place. Could the money accidentally fall out if the item was thrown? If you were searching a house, where would you look? If you didn’t care about your possessions, would anything stop you from getting to a specific spot? Avoid all of those spots and look for the unconventional instead.

It’s been a very stressful week for me, so today we’re taking a breather with a look at the lighter side of things. I saw a post on Alpha Consumer about the Cramer-Kasselt 2009 Cultural Dictionary. I couldn’t help but take a peek. Here are some of my favorite terms:

Brickor mortis: A term used to describe a housing market that has completely dried up. (Source:

I love this! It totally describes the LA market, which went from flush with foreclosed homes to long, dusty stretches without a single listing. We were lucky to get a home when we did.

Cashtration: A person who is cash poor, possession rich, but not wanting to sell those possessions until their value returns in the market place.

I see this on Craigslist. People are trying to sell their possessions, but put high-price tags on them and declare that they paid $3000 for it just a year ago. Guess what? I don’t care. If I wanted to pay a high price, I’d buy it new and not have to worry about transporting it myself.

Econnoisseur: An individual who takes great pride in finding high quality items at low prices.

This is so me. I love to nab a deal, and prefer to buy quality items that will last a long time. But I was like that before the recession.

Enoughism: The realization that one has more stuff than they could ever possibly need or use.

We went through this about a year ago when I finished my clutter purge with a dig through our closet full of stuff. We got rid of a ton, which was a great boon this weekend when we were packing the storage closet. At first I was disappointed that our new house has a carport and a shed instead of a full garage, but now I’m realizing it could be a boon – we simply won’t have room to store all the junk most people keep in their garages.

Homedulgence: An activity spurred on by the recession which seeks to replace going out. E.g., cocktail parties instead of bar nights and dinner parties instead of expensive restaurants. (Source:

I’m so looking forward to some homedulging once we move. I’m already planning which friends I would invite to which dinner party and what I might cook for them.

Co-rumination: Excessively discussing small problems, especially online, which can result in an inordinately high stress level.

I couldn’t resist this one, probably because me and every other blogger are guilty of it every day!

Review the list and then share your own faves, or add your made up words in the comments.

Recently my doctor advised me to avoid stress. I think that’s a standard line from doctors, even for people like me with no health issues. Nevertheless, I laughed and told her that would be difficult because I’m in escrow. She said that was good stress. From where I sit, it doesn’t feel good. I think I’m more stressed now than I’ve been at any other point in this six-month journey. Here are the five most stressful parts of buying a home, at least from my perspective.

Looking for the Right Home
In a normal market, this might be easy. In this market, looking at endless homes to find the right house is very stressful. You visit house after house until they all blend together. When we were just looking at open houses, it was pretty easy, although the homes we saw when we didn’t have an agent looked nothing like the homes we saw when we did!

Making Your First Offer
Actually, deciding whether to make an offer is pretty stressful, too. We considered making offers on two houses before finally finding the right one. We were exhilarated, but then the stress set in as we waited for an answer. The offer on the next home was easier, but not completely smooth as we waited to find out if the bank had stopped the foreclosure sale after receiving our offer. By the time I got to the third offer, I felt fine. I was excited about the house, but blasé about the process until the day we realized we would probably get this one. That’s when I called my parents to ask them to visit us to check out the house and offer their second opinion.

The Appraisal
This used to be an easy step, but now it’s pretty stressful. It took 8 days to get our appraisal back and we sweated it the whole time. It was possible that the home would appraise low, although we certainly wouldn’t have offered what we did if we didn’t think it would appraise. Still, you never know what will happen under the new system. I practically did cartwheels when the appraisal came in at our purchase price.

Loan Approval
Once the appraisal is in, the loan goes to underwriting and here comes more stress. We were pre-approved by an experienced loan officer, so he was confident we would be approved, but it’s still stressful. Here’s a tip: once you start the home-shopping process, don’t do anything that affects your credit. No major purchases, no new loans or credit cards. You can, of course, pay off debt if you have extra money after your down-payment and closing costs and reserves are met, but don’t take on new debt. Don’t close any accounts. We also stopped transferring money from our checking to our savings once we went into escrow in order to avoid any questions.

I nearly did a back-flip when our loan was approved, except for the rent verification which still needed to be met. I knew we’d get it and be fine, but it was very stressful while we waited for the bank and the landlord to communicate. I finally went down there and took care of it myself.

We’re not there yet, but this is also stressful. Once you get everything to the lender and the loan is approved, you’re at the mercy of other people getting everything done on time. Escrow has to prepare the HUD-1 form and get it to the lender. If there are corrections to be made, they have to do that quickly. Once the form is done, your lender orders the loan documents. They have to be delivered to escrow, which arranges for you to sign them. Then after you sign them, they have to go back through underwriting.

Your loan could be rejected at this point – which happened to friends of mine when an appraisal issue arose at the last second. They got it ironed out, but it was stressful. Then you wait for the loan to be funded and the deed to record and then finally you get the keys. So even as you sit on third base and the batter hits it into the stands, you might not make it to home plate. That’s stressful! If you’re at this point, don’t make any changes to your credit because it could cause your loan to be rejected. Wait until you have the keys to buy your appliances.

I’m not expecting anything to go wrong with our loan. Everything seems to be in order and our loan officer is very careful about making sure he has everything he needs. However, I’m not yet ready to say I bought a house. I won’t do that until those keys are in my hand. Until then, I’ll do my best to get a good night’s sleep and not take to the bottle.

It seems like a simple request. The bank will contact your landlord to confirm that you’ve paid your rent on time for the last 12 months. If you have a reliable landlord, a simple phone call is all it takes. If you have an idiot for a landlord, this process could threaten to delay your closing, as it’s doing in my case.

Verification of Rent Form
Some banks request a “verification of rent” form. Your landlord should be able to quickly and easily complete the form and fax or mail it to the back.

This is where the trouble started for us. We learned three weeks ago that our lender couldn’t reach our landlord. We supplied a different phone number. Our loan was approved this week, except they still needed rent verification. They faxed the form Monday. And then again Wednesday. And then again Friday. On Friday, when we stepped in, the management company promised they would fax it back in 20 minutes. They didn’t. I now have to go to their office and sit on them until they fax the form.

Alternatives to Landlord Confirmation
Had we known what a hassle this would be, we would have prepared in advance by ordering check copies. Our bank allows us to print 6 months worth of checks online, but it then takes 7-10 days to mail check copies after that. If we’d ordered the checks when we first became aware of the problem two weeks ago, we’d be done with this, but our lender prefers to receive the form.

What to Do to Avoid this Situation
If we can’t get the rent verification completed on Monday, we may not be able to sign our loan documents by Friday, which means we wouldn’t be won’t be able to close by the end of the month. If that happens, we won’t be able to take possession on the first of the month and will lose a weekend for painting and maintenance before we move in. We may also after to stay in our apartment an extra week, which would cost money. (Although we’ll scream about that to the management company, since this is their fault.)

If you know that your management company or landlord is difficult, prepare yourself in advance:

  1. Alert the landlord or manager that you’ve entered escrow and will need rent verification from them.
  2. Gather needed phone numbers. We didn’t know the bank needed phone numbers until they’d already attempted to reach the management company.
  3. Order check copies. It may cost a few dollars, but it’s worth the piece of mind to not be scrambling at the end if something goes wrong.
  4. Call the landlord after you know the rent verification form has been sent to confirm that it’s been received and returned. If it hasn’t, call repeatedly until it’s resolved.

If you’ve ever had to make repeated requests to get repairs made, then you should probably assume that your landlord or manager won’t verify your rent properly. If that’s the case, order the check copies now to avoid the hassle later. At this point, I have no other option but to go there and wait until I receive confirmation from my lender that they’ve received the form. Even it means being late for work, I will wait.

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