Multiple Offers on a House? Here’s How to Choose the Best One

Buying a new home often involves selling your current one. And in this market, that likely means you’ll receive multiple offers from potential buyers. So, if you receive multiple offers on a house, shouldn’t you just choose the highest one? Not necessarily. Mortgages can never take the easy way, can they? That’s where we come in. Let’s dive into all the key factors to consider when choosing the best offer on a house.

7 factors to consider when you receive multiple offers on a house.

  • How many contingency clauses are there?
  • How is the buyer planning to pay for it?
  • If the buyer is paying via mortgage, what type?
  • Is the buyer pre-approved?
  • Can the buyer cover the difference if the appraisal comes back low?
  • Can the buyer accommodate your move-out schedule?
  • How much earnest money did the buyer put down?

How many contingency clauses are there?

Contingency clauses are conditions that let buyers back out of the deal if they aren’t met. Since these conditions are intended to lower the buyer’s risk, as a seller you’ll generally want to favor offers with fewer contingencies. Some common contingency clauses to look for include:

  • Buyer has to sell their current home before buying yours
  • Buyer can walk away if the appraisal comes back lower than expected
  • Buyer can request necessary home repairs to be taken care of before purchasing

How is the buyer planning to pay for it?

If your buyer is offering to pay in cash, this could be an incentive for you to favor that offer over one that hinges on a mortgage. Cash offers save you (and the buyer) a lot of time and paperwork. On the other hand, cash offers typically won’t be the highest you receive. If security is a priority for you though, it might still be the best fit. Keep in mind that you may not receive any cash offers, as the average buyer simply doesn’t have that much money readily available.

If the buyer is paying via mortgage, what type?

While cash is great, most offers on your home will likely entail a mortgage. The heavy lifting for their home loan falls largely on the buyer, but some loan types may be easier for you to deal with than others. For example, government-backed mortgages like FHA and USDA loans could potentially take longer to process than Conventional loans. Not ideal if you’re in a hurry to move out.

Pro-Tip: Learn more about the different types of mortgages your buyers may have here.

Is the buyer pre-approved?

In a competitive market, a pre-approval letter from your buyer is more of a need than a want. Pre-approval essentially lets you know that if you accept their offer, the buyer has financing lined up. But if everyone is pre-approved, how does it help you make your decision? This is where your own research comes in. In addition to how much the buyer is pre-approved for, you should also look into who they’re pre-approved with. Not all mortgage lenders are created equal (we would know).

Can the buyer cover the difference if the appraisal comes back low?

Gap happens. If the appraisal (an objective estimate of the home’s value in the current market) comes back lower than the offer you’re considering, that difference typically won’t be covered by the buyer’s mortgage. In other words, before you accept an offer with an appraisal gap, make sure the buyer can make up the difference.

Pro-Tip: If you find yourself on the other side of an appraisal gap, try these strategies to close it.

Can the buyer accommodate your move-out schedule?

Whether you’re looking to move out ASAP or you need more time before handing over the keys, an offer that works with your schedule will make the process that much easier. Just remember that, like most decisions in life, the date you and your buyer both agree on will probably entail some compromise. After all, your schedule isn’t the only one in flux.

How much earnest money did the buyer put down?

A buyer’s earnest money deposit is typically 1-3% of the purchase price. In a competitive market, you might receive offers with higher deposits to sweeten the deal. The purpose of earnest money is to give you, the seller, confidence in the buyer’s ability to meet the conditions of the purchase agreement. This generally means that more earnest money is better, as you get to walk away with that amount even if the deal doesn’t go through.

Any other tips for handling multiple offers on a house?

This isn’t an exhaustive list of factors to consider when selling your home, but it should help you narrow down your priorities to choose the offer that best meets your needs. In some cases, you may also want to ask:

  • Is the buyer willing to pay for/handle repair requests?
  • Is the buyer willing to pay your closing costs?
  • Why is the buyer interested in your house? If your home has a lot of sentimental value, it may be important to know it’s being passed on to someone who will care for it as much as you do. Just be prepared for most honest answers to be “I need a place to live” and “it’s in my budget.”

In the midst of answering all these questions, don’t forget to pause, breathe, and remind yourself that out of multiple offers on a house, the best is ultimately the one you feel most comfortable with. You’ve got this!

Choosing the best offer on your house might be more complicated than you think. We’re here to uncomplicate it.


How to Reduce Traffic Noise in Your Backyard

Nothing says serenity like the shrill of sirens, blaring of horns, and jarring cacophony of traffic. Your backyard should be a place to get away from it all. But, if you live in a busy area, peace and quiet can be hard to come by. To make it easier, we’ve rounded up six ways to reduce traffic noise in your backyard. Not to go all science geek on you, but it ultimately comes down to creating sound barriers between you and the offending source.

6 Ways to Reduce Traffic Noise in Your Backyard

  • Plant hedges and vegetation
  • Install a deck
  • Build a privacy wall
  • Install an acoustic fence
  • Add water features
  • Build a shed

Pro Tip: The right additions for you may depend on the architecture style of your home. Learn more about the most popular house styles and how to identify yours with our quick guide.

1. Plant hedges and vegetation

One of the best (and most eco-friendly) ways to reduce traffic noise in your backyard while complying with city building codes is by planting hedges and additional vegetation. Hedges aren’t commonly subject to height limitations and can provide a great sound barrier between your yard and busy streets when planned correctly. Not only will hedges and trees reduce noise, but they’re also an excellent technique to give your backyard some more privacy. We know the prospect of new plants is always exciting, but be sure to talk to a landscaper about choosing the right greenery for your situation, space, and climate before you start planting.

2. Install a deck

Aside from vegetation, there are some other aspects of landscape design that can help you reduce traffic noise in your backyard. It’ll take some time, money, and effort, but building a deck can go a long way in reducing the traffic noise you’re dealing with. Building a deck is also a great way to build equity and increase your home’s value.

3. Build a privacy wall

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned brick wall to keep out unwanted traffic noise (and nosy neighbors). Brick walls give you a lot of freedom when it comes to where and how high you want to build, plus they’re the perfect density for blocking vibrations and don’t have gaps for sound to leak through. But while brick walls can reduce unwanted traffic noise by up to 50%, they’re also costly, take a lot of time and effort to install, and aren’t always the most aesthetically pleasing. If you’re in a neighborhood with height restrictions and regulations on what you can build in your backyard, you may want to opt for something a little less conspicuous.

4. Install an acoustic fence

Enter the acoustic fence. Acoustic fences have the same noise-blocking ability as brick walls at almost half the price. Not to mention, they can be much easier on the eyes and are available in many different styles and colors. They’re easy to install and will blend right in any neighborhood you live in. You can’t go as high with an acoustic fence as you can with a brick privacy wall, but you can still reduce noise quite a bit with this method.

5. Add water features

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire—or in this case, water. Sound barriers are great, but let’s be real: It’s impossible to block out ALL the noise of the city. In this case, you should start thinking competitively and attempt to create your own white noise to counter the traffic. Water features like fountains, a pool, waterfalls, and streams in your yard can create a soothing source of white noise that drowns out unwanted sounds. No pun intended.

6. Build a shed

A well-placed shed can be a superb sound blocker while also adding some extra storage to your backyard. If you know there’s an acoustic corridor in your backyard, such as an opening in a wall or a passageway leading into your garden, a shed could be the perfect solution to stop those sound waves from getting any further. Still not quiet enough? Try soundproofing the shed to double down on your noise-reducing tactics.

Any other tips for reducing traffic noise in my backyard?

Your backyard is supposed to be a place you can retreat to for relaxation, and traffic noise can get in the way of that. But you don’t have to let it win! Any one of the techniques listed above can help you fight back, but a comprehensive landscaping strategy that includes vegetation, creative landscaping and design, and some soothing white noise is your best bet at turning your backyard into a peaceful sanctuary. And if you can still hear the countryside calling through all your newly-installed white noise, we’ve got a loan for that.

Reclaim your backyard zen with sound barriers, white noise, and more strategies to reduce the clamor of city life.


Does a Swimming Pool Add to Home Value?

As the weather heats up, there’s no denying the appeal of a swimming pool in your own backyard. Before you take the plunge to have a pool installed, it’s important to ask yourself “Does a swimming pool add home value?” Answering that question is more complicated than you might think. So, let’s break down the pros and cons of pools.

Is a pool good or bad for home resale?

Some buyers might consider a pool more of a liability than a luxury. If your home has a swimming pool, it may be a feature that deters a family with small children or pets who don’t know how to swim.

You’ll also want to consider the true cost of a swimming pool, both for you as the homeowner installing it and for the potential buyer maintaining it. As a homeowner, it could cost you more than $50,000 to install, equip, and fill an inground pool. Maintenance costs could raise your utility bills each month, the chemicals could cost you hundreds during swimming season, and you may also want to increase your liability coverage on your homeowner’s insurance.

When is it a good idea to install a pool?

Adding a pool could increase your home’s value if:

  • You live in a warm climate
  • The style of your pool fits the neighborhood (and meets HOA regulations)
  • Most homes in your market have pools
  • You know you’ll keep up with maintenance
  • Your lot is big enough for a lawn and a pool
  • You plan on selling to buyers who would prefer a pool, like families with teenagers or empty nesters who host grandkids often.

Often, it’s all about location. Do you live in an area that appeals to the kind of buyers you want? Is there a good spot on your property for a pool? Does your HOA have strict specifications regarding pools? Ultimately, only you can make the call as to whether or not a pool is right for your home.

So, does a pool increase home value?

The truth is, whether or not a swimming pool adds home value is determined by a number of factors—the answer depends on your homeownership goals. But, when it comes time to sell your home, the right real estate agent can help you market your pool to buyers who will love your pool as much as you do. And if you’re staying put, take a dip for us. We’re not jealous or anything.


The Most Popular House Styles and Where to Find Them

Environment influences architecture, so knowing where to find the most popular house styles is a great place to start your home search. Whether you’re dreaming of a classic Colonial or a Contemporary home base with all the trendiest innovations, there’s a style out there for you—and a loan originator to help you finance it.

8 Most Popular House Styles in the US

As with just about everything in the United States, home architecture is an eclectic mix of influences from all over the globe. From historic English woodwork to cool Tuscan tiling, the most popular styles in the country can be hard to pin down. Many homes today will probably have elements of multiple styles, but we’ve rounded up eight of the most-loved looks you’re likely to see on the market.

  • Cape Cod
  • Colonial
  • Contemporary
  • Craftsman
  • Mediterranean
  • Ranch
  • Tudor
  • Victorian

Ready to get this house tour started? Let’s go.

Cape Cod Home Architecture

A fixture on the east coast, Cape Cod-style homes feature steep roofs, central chimneys, and shuttered windows. Settlers originally designed these homes to conserve heat and keep too much snow from accumulating on the roof, which may still be a priority if you’re looking to buy a home in the northeast US. As the name implies, this home style is also known for its coastal charm.

Escape to the Cape: Learn more about Cape Cod architecture here.

Colonial Home Architecture

If you’re looking for simple symmetry, a Colonial house could be right for you. This classic architecture style can be found all over the country, but especially in the New England area. In the southeast US, you can typically find French-style Colonial homes with wraparound porches and multiple doorways. There’s a wide variety of Colonial styles, but it ultimately comes down to rectangular shapes, simple floor plans, and symmetric sightlines.

Colonial Collection: See how to spot a Colonial-style home with these examples.

Contemporary Home Architecture

Contemporary home architecture (not to be confused with the strictly minimalist features of modernism) is all about natural light, sustainable materials, and biophilic design* in general. If you’re looking for a home that’s in harmony with nature, Contemporary architecture fits the bill. The floorplans tend to be spacious and sprawling, which means you’re more likely to find these in areas like the southwest, where there’s plenty of open space available. Keep in mind that with such an emphasis on large windows to maximize natural light, you’ll want to consider a sustainable energy source to keep your utility bills manageable.

*Biophilic design is architecture and interior design intentionally created to connect people with nature.

Can’t-Miss Contemporary: See Contemporary design at its finest with a look at the Tubac House in Arizona.

Craftsman Home Architecture

One of the most popular house styles in the US today is the Craftsman style. This architecture is recognizable for its use of natural materials, tapered columns, and inviting front porches. Inside, you’ll enjoy open concept floor plans and built-in features like desks, bookcases, and cabinets to save space. Because of this, Craftsman homes are one of the most energy-efficient styles available, which makes them popular in areas with more extreme temperatures in the summer and winter seasons.

Craft Corner: Get a feel for the Craftsman style with these examples.

Mediterranean Home Architecture

The mild climate of the west coast means Mediterranean architecture is prevalent in the area, especially in California. Mediterranean architecture is characterized by warm colors, terracotta roofs, and welcoming spaces that blend indoor and outdoor access. If you’re looking for a timeless home, this style can give you that ideal balance of classic and modern elements.

Mediterranean Musings: Find more Mediterranean inspiration here.

Ranch Home Architecture

Ranch homes are typically single-story and open concept. Easily identifiable by large windows and low rooflines, Ranch-style architecture is gaining popularity across the US but is usually found in warmer areas like the south and southwest. These homes often include basements, which could be an important safety feature if you plan to live in a tornado-prone area like Texas, Kansas, or Oklahoma.

Ranch Round-Up: Explore modern examples of Ranch style here.

Tudor Home Architecture

If a home made of quality materials that stand the test of time is a priority for you, Tudor-style home architecture may be just what you’re looking for. Tudor houses typically include gabled roofs, brick exteriors, and narrow windows. This house style is most often found in the midwest and northeast. The cons of Tudor architecture include less natural light and difficulty renovating if you change your mind later.

Tudor To-Do List: Explore stunning examples of Tudor architecture here.

Victorian Home Architecture

Not a fan of modern architecture? Then you’ll love the bright colors, ornate woodwork, and round angles of Victorian-style homes. Buying a Victorian home these days will probably entail some fixing up, so don’t forget to account for renovation costs in your budget. You can find Victorian architecture just about anywhere, but Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania may be your best bets for residential Victorian properties with the modern conveniences you need.

Victorian Views: San Francisco, CA is home to one of the most iconic examples of Victorian home architecture, the Painted Ladies.

How do I decide which of the most popular house styles is right for me?

If you’re not sure which style is your best fit, take our tried-and-true advice and start with a chart.

Energy efficientCraftsman, Cape Cod
Sustainable materialsContemporary, Craftsman
Biophilic designContemporary, Mediterranean, Craftsman
Unique designVictorian, Craftsman, Tudor
Open conceptRanch, Mediterranean, Contemporary
Easily renovated/expandedRanch, Colonial
Durable buildTudor, Colonial

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of potential styles to consider. And if you’re building your home, you may be able to pick and choose elements of each to create something that fits all your wants and needs. Either way, enjoy the search! It’s one of the fun parts of the home loan process.

Knowing which notable features are a priority for your next home can help you narrow down which popular house style is for you.


Smart Home Upgrades: How to Renovate for the Future

Boost your property value with these smart home upgrades.

When you make the decision to renovate, the end goal is to increase your home’s value when it’s time to sell. Back in the day, a fresh coat of paint, trimmed shrubbery, and new light fixtures might have done the trick. Those are still a great place to start, but in a competitive market, you might need to add some modern innovations to those renovation staples.

Smart home upgrades to try in 2022

  • Update your thermostat
  • Improve home security
  • Install smart lighting systems
  • Connect it all with voice control

Update your thermostat

As a homeowner, you’re probably starting to understand your dad’s obsession with leaving the thermostat alone. Those energy bills tend to get higher no matter how you conserve, but there’s no need to sweat in silence. A smart thermostat won’t just save you time, money, and energy—it also makes your home that much more attractive to potential buyers when it’s time to sell. Most smart thermostats provide helpful features like voice controls and geofencing without breaking the bank. If you’re on the fence about smart technology in your home, thermostats are a great way to ease into it.

Improve home security

Smart technology has completely transformed the way we make our homes safe. Interior and exterior cameras, video doorbells, and smart locks have all become hot commodities for homeowners across the country and home values have continued to rise as a result. Not only that, but installing a smart security system could help you (and future buyers) save on home insurance.

Install smart lighting systems

There are plenty of smart lighting starter kit options for people who are thinking of trying it out. All it takes is simply swapping your old bulbs for the smart LEDs and connecting them to the internet. Installing smart lighting technology is an energy-efficient and cost-effective way to increase your home’s appeal to future buyers.

Connect it all with voice control

Once you’ve got a few elements for your smart home, it’s time to tie it all together. Smart speakers act as a hub for the rest of your tech, allowing you to control them all with your voice. Voice control doesn’t just make day-to-day tasks easier. It also makes your home more accessible for those with vision impairment, mobility issues, or other disabilities.

Are there any other smart home upgrade trends I should consider?

With technology changing so rapidly, it can be hard to prioritize which smart home upgrades will stand the test of time. Ultimately, it comes down to your budget and what you’re comfortable with. Not everyone wants every aspect of their home to be online, and that’s understandable (we saw that streaming show, too). If you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I afford it?
  • Will it appeal to or alienate buyers when it’s time to sell?
  • Does it simplify the homeownership experience or make it more complicated? Does it fit the style of my home? The latest gadgets may look a bit out of place in that charming Victorian villa.

Bottom line, if you don’t like it, don’t spend money on it. As important as it is to consider resale value, you’re the one who has to live there now. Enjoy it!

Doorbells and thermostats are two easy smart swaps you can make to boost value and improve the homeownership experience.