By MICHELLE KEMPER

BROWNLOW

Tri County Correspondent

At some point in your life you may find yourself buying or selling a home, or both. Both of these rank very high on the list of stress-inducing situations. This time-consuming, life-altering, patience-testing, albeit exciting, time in your life will have you filled with wonder. But not always the good kind.

You will wonder if your house sold so quickly because your asking price was too low. You will wonder when the seller accepted your first offer if you shouldn't have started lower. Some of you will wonder if you will ever sell your house and others will have sleepless nights over finding just the right place to call home. Sound like fun?

As with anything, if you do your homework you will find a greater peace and understanding as you go through any of these stressful scenarios. With Dave Ramsey by your side and Financial Peace University under your belt, you can eliminate the bulk pack of antacids that follow you everywhere.

Selling Your Home

When selling your home you need to put on your "retailer" hat. Think like a retailer. Walk through your home with a new eye. The crack in the entryway wall where your son tried to kick his way to the living room: You may walk by and not even notice because it has been there so long but to someone who is considering making your home theirs, this is not a good first impression. Ramsey teaches that your fix-up dollars are very well spent. Painting, lawn care and fixing the squeaky hinges will pay off in the end. The return on your investment when it comes to increasing your curb appeal is enormous. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar is the one who coined the phrase, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

Get yourself an agent. There are many companies that claim they will save you money and you won't have to "pay a realtor." This is not good advice according to Ramsey. Statistical research has found that good realtors are worth much more than they will receive as commission when your house sells. The exposure your home will get through the Multiple Listing Service that realtors have access to is worth it and will get you the results you want. Look for agents who have a significant track record within your area.

Buying A Home

Home ownership is a forced savings plan, an inflation hedge and grows virtually tax free. This is a good idea all around if you have the cash flow to support such a large purchase. Always look for the bottom of the price range in the neighborhood you are looking to move. If you buy too high, your chance for making that back on a resale plummets significantly. You know what they say, "Location, location, location!" That's what it is all about, right? You will be looking out your windows for the next 30 years. Make sure you like what you will see because it will make writing those mortgage checks even easier.

You can really get a great deal if you learn how to look. Overlook bad landscaping, ugly carpet and wallpaper and strange choice of colors. These are things that are easy to change and won't break the bank.

When we were house hunting the first time, I will never forget the house with the orange shag carpet, peach sherbet colored walls and a strange, flowery, blue stencil around the top of the wall in the living room and the upstairs wasn't much better.

Then my husband noticed hardwood floors in the closets. A hidden treasure. We bought that house. Right after our closing we took my in-laws through and each of us grabbed a corner of the matted down shag and r-r-ripped. A couple cans of paint, new curtains and some TLC to the floors and we had a gorgeous home....we didn't stop with the living room.

Mortgages

Remember, you hate debt. The best plan for your mortgage is 100 percent down...done deal! But if this doesn't suit your pocketbook then you will need to come to terms with the fact that less home will do for a while. Here is Ramsey's best advice on your house hunting budget.

* Never pay more than 25 percent of your take home pay.

* Get a 15-year fixed rate loan.

* Put at least 10 percent down.

* Have a fully funded emergency fund left over after closing costs. Closing costs are NOT an "emergency."

A $95,000 mortgage over 15 years gives you monthly payments of $907. For a 30-year mortgage on the same amount, you will pay $697 per month. That is a big savings, right? WRONG!

After only 10 years, the 15-year loan has a balance of $44,000 while the 30-year plan (what you thought was a savings) has a balance of $83,000! So, if you still think a 30-year mortgage isn't that bad....think about this, after those 10 years of paying down your debt you will come to realize that of the $83,600 you paid, only $12,000 of that money was principle. This decision doesn't make for peaceful pockets, that's for sure.

The best advice, I feel, for this week comes from the Bible. "Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house." Proverbs 24:27

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