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Life is full of "should haves" and "if onlys."

But when buying a house, you can leave these thoughts behind by knowing what to do before you purchase and avoiding common mistakes.

Are You a Home-Buying Newbie? Avoid These 3 Mistakes

Recently, I shared with you some of the lessons I learned from buying my first house in Moorhead, Minnesota, and today, I thought I'd pass along a few pitfalls to avoid to help you approach your home-buying journey confidently.

1. Not Knowing How Much Money You Can Spend

One of my biggest regrets when purchasing my first home was not buying more house and relying on my lender to decide how much house I could afford.

In other cases, lenders can approve you for far more than you actually want to spend, so you must make this decision knowing yourself and your budget.

Before taking on mortgage payments, know your budget inside and out to give you a firm grasp on your finances. Don't forget to consider all the "extras" above and beyond the purchase price, such as your down payment, closing costs, furnishings, repairs, and other unforeseen needs.

2. Not Tracking Your Expenses Beforehand

Home buyers who start making home offers without understanding their spending patterns, debts, assets, and income can quickly realize that they're in over their heads.

Instead, track your expenses before you start making offers so you know what you're up against. Be sure you know the answer to simple questions, such as:

  • How much do you make after taxes, and how much is left over?
  • How much are your monthly expenditures for groceries, gas and car payments, insurance, loans, and other debts?
  • Where is your line in the sand? You need to know the internal number that brings you peace. If you're spending over the desired amount and it costs you your peace, then it's too expensive.

Rachel Cruze of Ramsey Solutions says, "to calculate how much house you can afford, use the 25% rule: Never spend more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay (after tax) on monthly mortgage payments. Following this rule keeps you safe from buying too much house and ending up house poor. I want your home to be a blessing, not a curse."

3. Not Leaving Room for Competitive Offers

In today's hot housing marketing, you should count on other buyers being interested in every property you consider, so look for listings that leave room for competitive offers.

After figuring out the price you can afford, lower it a little and start looking. You may be tempted to skirt the very top of your price range, but you must remember that other potential buyers may have more flexible budgets.

Even if most houses sell over the listing price, remember that you don't necessarily have to offer and pay more. An excellent real estate agent will help you look for ways to stay competitive, such as adding escalation clauses to the contracts you submit, which would mean the price only gets raised if other people have higher offers too.

When you're ready to start this life-changing adventure, surround yourself with the experienced, trustworthy experts at Christians Home Crew that will help you move in the right direction.

Connect with us today to get started!

Let's connect! 

Reach out today by email

or by calling (701) 373-5155.

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When it takes longer than expected to sell your home, it's not uncommon for finger-pointing and blame to come to the surface.

However, you might be surprised to learn that many home sellers are the ones actually sabotaging their ability to sell their homes quickly and for a good price.


Because they've fallen into one of these five deadly sins of home sale sabotage.

5 Deadly Sins that Will Sabotage Your Home Sale

There are five things homeowners hate and that are detestable to them: pride, deception, procrastination, uncleanliness, and apathy.

1. Pride

When selling your home, pride comes out when you hold too high of an opinion about your home.

Yes, you've spent much of your life in that home, and you should be proud of it, but just because it's special to you doesn't mean it's worth more. This is where a good agent comes in. They'll be able to be honest with you about what your home is really worth, and they'll also be able to tactfully tell you what "special touches" to you are actually deterrents to potential buyers.

2. Deception

This one should be obvious, but you'd be surprised at the number of sellers that try to hide home issues from buyers.

Most of these issues and defects can be easily pointed out by a home inspector turned agent and will come out in the inspection. When the inspector does find these things, it leaves potential buyers wondering what else you might be hiding and can cause them to walk away from a sale.

Be upfront and disclose everything you can.

3. Procrastination

Too busy to allow a home showing? Want to put it off till later?

Assuming you'll get a second chance is a mistake when selling your home. No matter how busy you are or what kind of day you've had, if someone wants to look at your home, make every possible effort to make it happen.

If you put it off, potential buyers will move on to look at different homes, and you will miss the opportunity to have a successful sale.

4. Uncleanliness

You've probably heard the old adage, "cleanliness is next to godliness." The same idea applies when it comes to selling your home.

"Good enough" will not cut it.

Cobwebs, pet hair, stuffed closets, ring-around-the-tub… all of these things can sabotage your sale. To sell quickly and for a great price, your home needs to sparkle, so clean it well!

Learn how to stage your home well by cutting down on clutter and moving most of your items to storage. The cleaner and more open your home feels, the better it will show, and the faster it will sell.

5. Apathy

This one is simple: don't forget your yard and home's exterior when trying to sell.

First impressions matter and your front and back yard will be important selling points to potential buyers.

While you don't have to go overboard, you do need to give it a little TLC by making sure your landscaping and plants look nice. Add some interest to your front yard with color.

Eliminate the stress of selling your home and see it come to a fast conclusion by avoiding these deadly sins. You will have much greater success in selling your home quickly, and you won't be standing in your own way.

Ready to get started? Connect with me today!

Let's connect! 

Reach out today by email

or by calling (701) 373-5155.

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Looking to prepare your home and set the stage for a successful sale? Check out this 25-point checklist!

Focus on First Impressions

The outside of your home and your property are the first things potential buyers will notice, and a first impression can make or break a sale. To entice buyers to your doorstep, ensure the outside of your home looks inviting.

◻ Mow the yard
◻ Pull weeds
◻ Prune the hedges
◻ Plant flowers
◻ Put away bikes, toys, and trash cans
◻ Pull cars out of the driveway for a clear view of your home and property
◻ Consider a freshly painted door
◻ Ensure your house number is easily visible

Consider driving around Fargo, Moorhead, and surrounding areas and seeing how others care for and tend to their yards and homes. You'll quickly see that most residents enjoy a clean and well-maintained yard.

Eliminate Clutter

Potential buyers are looking to easily visualize themselves and their belongings in the home, and clutter is a significant distraction. Clutter not only can make your visitors feel uncomfortable, but it can also make your house seem smaller and unmaintained. 

General: Remove personal items like family photos, knickknacks, awards, and collectibles from tables, windowsills, shelves, and other surfaces
Kitchen: store away countertop appliances, put away towels, magnets, sponges, paper towels, and dish soap
Pets: Remove pet beds, toys, kennels, and bowls
Bathroom: Remove all toiletries, hairdryers, and trashcans. Open the shower curtain, and close the toilet lid.
Closets: Tidy up closets throughout the house. (Cluttered closets give the impression they're smaller than they are.)
Furniture: Too much can feel cluttered. Consider storing half of your furniture in storage and boxing up smaller items like books and pictures.

Once the clutter is gone, give your home a deep cleaning. You might even consider hiring a cleaning crew to come regularly throughout the selling process to keep it looking great and keep you from the extra work and stress. If you are doing the cleaning, consider these tips:

◻ Don't forget the windows, behind the toilet, grout, and under sinks
◻ Move furniture and vacuum behind and under it
◻ If clutter is an issue, try FLYlady's 27-Fling Boogie. 

Marla Cilley, the Fly Lady, invented the 27 fling boogie as a strategy to help people declutter their homes. Here's how it works:

  • Grab a garbage bag or some kind of container.
  • Walk around your house, and pick up anything you want to get rid of.
  • Put the items to be decluttered in your bag.
  • Don't stop decluttering until you've put 27 items in your bag.
  • Once you've decluttered your 27 items, bring the bag out to the trash bin.

Repair and Replace

The outside of your home and your property are the first things potential buyers will notice, and a first impression can make or break a sale. To entice buyers to your doorstep, ensure the outside of your home looks inviting.

◻ Repair squeaky doors, hinges, broken fixtures, and fittings
◻ To give your home a more modern look, consider replacing light fixtures, light switches, outlets, and door and cabinet hardware 
◻ Refinish floors or update with inexpensive area rugs, if need be.

Finishing Touches

Lastly, keep these finishing touches in mind for the overall look of your home and property.

Paint: Use fresh, neutral colors (beige, taupe, light gray) for living spaces and neutral hues (green or blue) for bathrooms. Stay away from bold wall colors as they're often a turnoff to buyers.
Accents: Instead of bold colors on walls, use colorful accents with pillows or vases of flowers. 
Furniture: Arrange your rooms and furniture to accentuate the architecture of your home and highlight its stunning features, such as high ceilings, windows, views, fireplaces, and more. You can make ceilings look higher by placing tall objects, such as bookshelves, against walls or by hanging your art a bit lower. 
Wall Art: Keep wall art and paintings neutral and simple.
Light: Open up your blinds and drapes to ensure plenty of welcoming, natural light throughout your home.

Help is on the Way

Selling your home can be an exciting adventure full of surprises and pitfalls. If you're looking to make selling and staging your home less of a chore, reach out for help from Christians Home Crew today!

Let's connect! 

Reach out today by email

or by calling (701) 373-5155.

Other Recent Blogs:


Recently, I shared with you my first home buying experience in Moorhead, Minnesota, and the lessons I learned from it.

In reading my story, you might find yourself asking if buying an as-is house is worth the risk. After all, it could be a doozy or a dud, right? A dream come true or your worst nightmare.

Before you leap into what you "think" is a great deal or dismiss the home outright because of its as-is status, take the time to understand what "as-is" really means.

What Does "As-Is" Really Mean?

While "as-is" can have negative connotations, sometimes it simply means that the bank is trying to communicate they don't know enough about the house. The owner may know the roof leaks, for example, but the bank might not have any way of knowing that.

When considering an as-is sale, bear in mind that: 

  • There are no promises regarding the condition of the house from the seller.
  • The seller will not be fixing anything to your liking.
  • Any and all repairs are the buyer's responsibility.

How to Move Forward with Confidence in "As-Is" Sales

If you decide to take your chances and pursue an as-is home, here are three tips to keep in mind so you can buy as confidently as possible.

1. Get an inspection.

An inspection has the incredible blessing of one thing: knowledge.

As a former home inspector, I can tell you that the inspection process will bring many of the unknown or unforeseen defects to light. You'll benefit from knowing what you're up against and making an informed decision.

2. "As-is" doesn't mean "no disclosure."

Even though the seller isn't responsible for fixing anything in an as-is seller, that doesn't mean they're entirely off the hook.

Sellers still have an obligation to disclose any knowledge they have regarding the property, and not disclosing what they know could be considered fraud that they could be held liable for.

3. Know your worth.

As-is homes typically sell for $5,000 to$10,000 less than a regular home.

As a buyer, you have to ask yourself if the potential savings are worth the cost and mental energy of making the repairs yourself. As a seller, if you choose to sell your home as-is and not fix things up yourself, bear in mind that you stand to lose money on the sale of your home, so disregard that Zillow estimate. While neither of these is a definite cause not to go forward, you need to decide how much your effort is worth.

Have Someone in Your Corner

If you're looking for an agent you can trust to lead you through the uncharted waters of buying or selling an as-is home, trust the expertise of a home inspector turned agent combined with the character of a Navy Veteran.

An as-is home shouldn't make you instantly run away, but it should encourage you to go in with your eyes wide open and seek the help of a knowledgeable agent on your team who can walk you through the pros and cons.

Avoid your new home turning into a money pit. Let's partner up!

Let's connect! 

Reach out today by email

or by calling (701) 373-5155.


Your first job. Your first love. Your first promotion.

"Firsts" make an impact, shaping who you become and creating experiences both good and bad that you carry with you forever. American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift once said, "You only get so many firsts; each one is a blessing."

While I might not be dancing around my house singing "Shake it Off" or "Look What You Made Me Do," Taylor is right. Your "firsts" matter. As a real estate agent, you might think I was born knowing the ins and outs of home ownership, but nope. It took a "first" of my own.

Buying My First House

Buying your first house is a firestorm of nerves and excitement, and my experience was no different.

In 2003, when I was 22 years old, I bought my first house in Moorhead, Minnesota, for a whopping $41,000. I was clueless about what to expect, as I didn't really know what the process of buying a house was. Back then, it was the dawn of the internet, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that I could sit there with my dial-up internet and look at houses on a computer.

Even though there were fewer hoops to jump through, and it was a simpler time, buying my first house was more difficult than I expected. I thought I could walk into a bank and say, 'I want to buy a house,' but I quickly learned there's a little more to it than that.

3 Lessons I Learned from Buying My First House

1. The Value of Working with a Real Estate Professional

In 2003, I worked with an incredible agent named Dave Cusey.

Dave has since passed, but my experience working with him changed not only my first home-buying experience but also the direction of my future career.

Why was Dave such an excellent real estate agent?

  • He knew the location. Dave was very knowledgeable about Moorhead and knew everything there was to know. This was especially beneficial to me as I was not from the area. Dave helped me see considerations of the location that I wouldn't have thought of, such as driving to school or work, the location of the train tracks, etc.
  • He got to know me personally. Back then, you rode with the agent when you went to look at houses. My dad and I rode with Dave and got to know him well. I can still picture Dave driving his truck and reading his real estate book at the same time.
  • He looked out for me. Dave knew what to look out for on things I had no idea about. He was constantly researching behind the scenes and checking on things for me. For example, Dave found a flood certification that the bank and listing agent didn't know about, allowing me to afford the home without a colossal flood insurance premium.

Having an agent who knows the right steps and can get you on the right path is invaluable in your home buying experience.

2. The Benefits of Getting a Home Inspection

If you know my story at all, you know that before I became a real estate agent, I was a home inspector for ten years.

However, I didn't get a home inspection when I bought my first house. Back then, inspections were new, and my dad was a handyman, so I had him come and check out the house with me.

But there were still things we missed because we didn't have or know the process a home inspector does.

3. Don't Settle

If you asked me what I regretted about my first home purchase, I'd tell you that I wish I hadn't been so afraid to spend what I could. I wish I had bought more house. I was approved for more than I spent, and I could've gotten a better house in a better location with better maintenance.

I was also on a tight deadline and only looked at five houses. I found two homes that I really liked and picked the less expensive one.

"According to a report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of homes buyers looked at in 2021 dropped to eight, which is the lowest number on record since NAR started collecting data." (Source:

Since becoming an agent myself, one tip I know now that I didn't back then is to sit down and make a list of priorities of what you want in the house (number of bedrooms and bathrooms, fenced yard, two-stall garage, etc.). From there, break those items down into your must-haves and your wants. You can even use these items as search criteria online when searching for houses.

Have your list and use it. Don't look at houses that don't have the things you need. In other words, ignore the trendy, new kitchen and stick to your must-haves.

Ready to buy your first home? Here's what you do.

When you're ready to buy your first home, keep these tips in mind:

  • Call me! I know, I know… shameless plug, but seriously, connect with an expert who will get you on the right path.
  • Call a local, reputable mortgage lender or bank and start your pre-approval process sooner rather than later. This will keep you from rushing and making decisions you'll regret later.
  • Relax and enjoy the journey to homeownership!

Let's connect! 

Reach out today by email 

or by calling (701) 373-5155.


5 Home Inspection Tips from a Home Inspector Turned Real Estate Agent

Home inspections can feel like preparing for a final exam, but they don't need to be as anxiety-ridden as people often make them out to be.

Here's why.


What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is simply a tool, not a test. 

There's no pass or fail, except from the buyer. The buyer can pass on the home, renegotiate, or buy a house as-is, knowing its potential for future issues.

An inspection intends to look for any potential problems or defects that might arise and are all about protection for the mortgage lenders, the home buyers, and even the sellers.

Although home inspections aren't required when buying or selling a home, they make good sense. Just as you wouldn't want to buy a car without a mechanic inspecting it first, if you don't have the expertise to spot potential costly repairs, you should rely on the experts who do. 


5 Home Inspection Tips to Keep in Mind

1. Know when to schedule your home inspection.

The best time to schedule your home inspection is immediately after the seller accepts your offer but before you close on the house. Urgency is essential because it gives you the time to renegotiate, if necessary. 

2. Know the 'Top Five.'

As a buyer or a seller, you need to be aware of the top five most important areas of a home inspection. 

  1. Roof – How soon will it need to be replaced? Are there nearby trees that could cause damage or give unwanted critters easy access?
  2. Water – Whether inside or outside of the home, signs of leaks and water damage should be at the top of everyone's list to keep an eye out for.
  3. Foundation – Foundation repairs can be costly and often come from unseen issues, such as tree roots.
  4. Appliances - Think bigger than kitchen appliances here; you want to know the condition of things like the furnace, central air, garbage disposal, hot water heater, and more.
  5. Signs of age – Overall, your inspector will look for signs of age to warn you of any potential future expenses you should be prepared for with your home purchase.

3. Know what questions to ask.

Finding the right inspector for the job is crucial. That's why it's greatly to your benefit to work with a real estate agent who knows the home inspectors in your area well.

You'll also want to prepare a list of questions for the inspector, such as:

  • What does the inspection cover? 
  • How many inspections have they performed? 
  • How long does the inspection take? 
  • When will the inspection report be ready? 
  • What is the cost of the inspection? 
  • Are they affiliated with the seller in any way? (Remember: the inspector works for the buyer, and you don't want a conflict of interest.)

4. Know your options.

Did you know you can attend the inspection if you'd like to see any problems for yourself?

Knowing your options will help you get everything you need from the inspection. Review any seller disclosures and have the inspector examine those areas to verify any repairs. 


5. Understand what's NOT inspected.

Sometimes knowing what's NOT inspected is just as important as knowing what is. 

Typically, a home inspection will not include items such as pools, hot tubs, tree health, sprinkler systems, septic tanks, wells, air quality (e.g., mold), chimneys, etc.

If these areas concern you, you should ask to be connected to a specialty inspector.

Trust the Experts

When you have inspection questions, trust the real estate agent with ten years of experience as a home inspector and make your next home purchase stress-free.

Call Eric D. Christians with Christians Home Crew - The Key to Your Next Move


Realtor vs Broker: Whats the Big Deal

Personalization can make all the difference in your experience of something.

Whether you're looking for a hairstylist who knows your unique hair or a doctor who knows you and you can trust, a personalized experience is vital.

According to a 2021 McKinsey & Company Report, "71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And 76 percent get frustrated when this doesn't happen."

And here's the thing: the same is true when working with a real estate agent. 

That's why, here at Christians Home Crew, we think it's important to highlight one common mistake buyers or sellers make when referring a REALTOR® to a family or friend: accidentally referring the brokerage firm instead of the agent directly.

Agent or Broker: What's the Big Deal?

If someone asked you where you got your hair cut because they wanted the same cut, you would tell them the name of the stylist and the salon. Likewise, if someone asked you where you went to fix your shoulder pain, you'd refer the orthopedic doctor and the name of the hospital.

Why? Because that personal touch makes all the difference. Another stylist or another doctor at the same facility could mean a completely different experience than what you had. You'd hate for your friend or family member not to share the same excellent results you did.

While Beyond Realty is an incredible brokerage firm, it can be confusing to referred clients who come in expecting to work with the same agent as their friend or family and then realize they only know the brokerage name and not the name of the specific agent they want to partner with.

Talk to your Realtor about Real Estate Agents vs Brokers


How to Give a Good Referral

To avoid this common mistake, here are a few tips on how you can share your experience for the benefit of others when you're pleased with the personalized service you received from Christians Home Crew.

1. Tell Your Unique Story to Others

The best referrals share your unique experience with the person you're referring. In doing so, you generate confidence and trust on behalf of both parties before an initial meeting has even taken place.

2. Get and Give Business Cards

Once your positive experience comes to a close, ask your agent for some of their business cards to hand out within your network if someone asks for a referral. This will give your referral more weight, clarity, and a better chance for positive results. 

3. Before You Make an Introduction…

No one wants a bad referral, so be sure to get permission from both parties before making an introduction. This will ensure a connection is warranted and a respect for privacy is met.

Perfect Experience. Perfect Referral.

Referrals are priceless and the lifeblood of buyers, sellers, and agents alike.

At Christians Home Crew, we want to earn your referral by keeping our word, proving ourselves honorable, showing our expertise for your benefit, and following through to exceed your expectations. 

Christians Home Crew: The Key to Your Next Move


Many needless fears and myths surround home inspections. But it doesn't have to be that way, especially if the agent you're working with has a history as a home inspector.

A home inspector turned real estate agent can put you ahead of the game in your buying and selling process. Here's how.

Home Inspector Real Estate Agent

1. They Can Give You a Better Understanding of the Property's Condition

After conducting hundreds of home inspections themselves, a home inspector turned real estate agent will be better able to inform you about the condition of the home based on the inspection report findings.

Imagine having someone in your corner who can explain what certain defects mean from the inspection report and guide you on your options. For example, sometimes defects can sound worse than they are or not nearly scary enough. Having someone on your team offer a perspective on things can be invaluable for you.

2. They Can Help You Know Your Options

When you've fallen in love with a house or property, it's not uncommon for potential buyers to overlook the importance of getting an inspection, skip it, and then regret it later.

An agent with a home inspector background can remove the fear surrounding home inspections by laying out the many options you have. For example, they'll be able to tell you: 

  • When to walk away. Helping you translate major structural issues, severe water damage, or mold from your inspection report will be a major asset for making an informed decision that's best for the long run.
  • When to re-evaluate. Knowing the industry, a prior home inspector turned agent can let you know when reported findings seem exaggerated and suggest bringing in more specialized experts to take another look.
  • When to renegotiate. For some issues, it may be in your best interest to have the seller cover the cost of repairs or lower the purchase amount accordingly.
  • When to feel confident proceeding. Knowing which reported findings are cosmetic or minor will help you skip more negotiation and feel confident in moving forward.

How to read a home inspection report 

3. They Can Decipher Facts from Fiction

Does a long inspection report mean the property is trash? Do sellers have to fix everything in the report? What happens if the home fails an inspection?

Questions like these are why you need someone you trust on your team. It's so easy to fall into a rabbit hole of "what ifs" and miss the truth of what is fact and what is a myth.

The truth is:

  • Your agent will guide you on what you can and can't request from the seller

    based on your inspection report.
  • You don't have to share the inspection with anyone.

    A home inspector works for the person paying for the inspection, so if you want to keep the findings to yourself, you can. However, you'll want to share it with your agent, who can help you understand the report and negotiate appropriately based on the findings. See the advantage in this scenario of having an inspector-turned-agent?
  • Not all home inspectors are the same.

    As with any profession, home inspectors have different backgrounds, have taken various exams, and might or might not be licensed. Just as a word-of-mouth referral for a mechanic is better than "hoping for the best," having an agent connect you with the best home inspectors in the business can only benefit you.

Home Inspector + Veteran + Real Estate Agent = A Winning Combination

Eric Christians of Christians Home Crew offers you a one-of-a-kind trifecta for buying or selling your home: a home inspector for ten years, the courage, honesty, and discipline of a Navy Veteran, and the knowledge and expertise as a licensed REALTOR®, you're in good hands.

Connect with Eric today at 701-373-5155 and buy or sell with confidence!

Christians Home Crew: The Key to Your Next Move

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