Lately I have had the pleasure to work with several first-time homebuyers and a few buyers relocating to Nashville from other regions. Many of those buyers have been shocked at how quickly decisions need to be made in the Nashville-area market. As a friend said to me last year when purchasing a house – “I have spent more time making a decision about buying a pair of shoes than I have spent deciding to buying this house!” This crazy, fast-paced market can be intimidating for buyers and sellers, but it is possible to make an informed yet quick decision!

Talk to your lender.

Before buyers can begin their research, they need to know how much house they can afford! You wouldn’t shop for a Bentley on a Schwinn budget! That’s where the lender comes in. Buyers should speak with a variety of lenders and obtain a prequalification letter from the lender of their choice. It is always possible to speak with additional lenders later, but in today’s competitive market, buyers need to be prepared to submit a prequalification letter along with their offer in order to be competitive with other potential buyers.

Do your homework.

I highly recommend that buyers spend time looking at houses online to get a feel for current inventory. It is important to be realistic about how much house your money will buy. It is tempting to shop above budget in the hopes of getting a “good deal” but in the current Nashville-area market, many houses are selling above listing price, not under. During the research process, buyers may learn that sacrifices need to be made (size, condition, number of bedrooms or bathrooms) in order to live in certain neighborhoods. Realtors are also a great resource during this research process as we may be able to recommend certain areas or neighborhoods to put on a buyer’s “watch list” that a buyer might otherwise have failed to consider.

Get lost.

One of my real estate mentors likes to tell her buyer clients that one of the best ways to learn an area is to get lost driving around in that area. In other words, buyers can learn a lot about a community when they spend a few hours merely driving around to see what they can discover. So, plan a few weekend drives with the goal of getting lost (and be sure to take note of any interesting neighborhoods that you may discover)!

Talk to your Realtor!

Buyers (and sellers) need to be prepared for the possibility that the sellers will receive multiple offers on their home.  Realtors can educate buyers and sellers about the multiple offer process. This often involves setting up a multiple offer procedure that allows all interested buyers to produce their “highest and best” offer by a specified date and time. Realtors can help buyer clients prepare offers that will be as attractive as possible to sellers. Beware – it is easy to get swept up in the multiple offer excitement! A Realtor can work with buyers to ensure that they are not overpaying or giving up important rights or contingencies in the battle to “win” the house.


For many people, clutter can be barrier to beginning the home selling or buying process. When clutter invades, it can often be hard to decide where to begin.  As a result, many people choose to ignore the problem and put off until later the daunting task of decluttering.  In his Becoming Minimalist blog post “How to Declutter Large, Overwhelming Spaces,” Joshua Becker provides a step-by-step plan for tackling the clutter.  I have included the key steps of Joshua’s plan below:

1. Remove the easiest things first.

2. Discard larger items next.

3. Donate items instead of selling them.

4. Break your large space into smaller bite-size challenges.

5. Work until your bite-size piece is completed.

6. Physically touch each item and sort into keep, remove, or relocate.

7. Organize what’s left.

The blog post can be read in full here:


In this post, I am only going to say positive things…mostly. I’ll at least try. But seriously, as a mediator I have done a lot of reading about how to help others reach agreement.  One theory is that if you can start getting some small victories or a “yes”, the parties are more likely to build positive momentum that will help with resolving the overall dispute.  A small “yes” leads to more “yeses”. I know most of us are familiar with theories about the power of positive thinking or the benefits of creating positive energy. As a Realtor, I believe focusing on the positive rather than the negative can also be important to the home buying process.

When I work with my real estate clients, I ask them to give me an idea of what features are important to them in a home.  Typically, clients start out with their “must-have” list.  But, as the search goes on it is easy to make blanket statements that begin with phrases like “I could never” or “I would never.” To be fair, sometimes there really are deal-breakers in a property.  But, real estate is a lot like life.  Limiting statements and doubt can cause us to miss out on great opportunities. 

We all know someone who seems to live a charmed life.  These “charmed” people always seem to find great jobs, great houses, great friends, and generally great opportunities. It seems like those opportunities just land in the laps of these lucky people.  But, do they really?  Sometimes, maybe.  But, maybe there is something else at play.  Is it possible that your “charmed” friend approaches the world with a sense of possibility instead of an “I can’t” or “I would never” mindset?   Could it be that they are more open to the unexpected experiences life throws at them? Real estate is no different. 

Taking a hard line on certain aspects of a home can be limiting and may cause someone to miss out on a great house. It may also cause a buyer’s Realtor to rule out a property that has the potential to be their dream home because it contains one of those “I could never” features.  I urge anyone looking at properties to keep an open mind because I am “positive” that the property that ultimately speaks to you may not look exactly like you think it will!


There have been many times in my legal career, my vacation rental management career and in my career as a REALTOR when I have felt overwhelmed.  It could be the result of a steadily increasing “to do” list that is growing faster than I can handle, or it could be one heart-pounding, sweaty palm, bad event that feels so monumental that I just can’t figure out how I will ever move past it.  In those times the solution is often very simple, yet not the first (or even fifth) option that comes to mind.  That solution is to simply ASK FOR HELP.  It seems so simple, but we often don’t do it.  Maybe our situation feels embarrassing, or maybe we just don’t want to impose. 

Helping others is a good thing to do.  And, it feels good to help.  I bet most of us know people who would like to help us out, if they only knew what we needed.  As a REALTOR, I find that many people would like to start the process of selling their current home or looking for a new home, but there is some sort of impediment preventing them from moving forward.  If you are in that situation, I encourage you to speak to a REALTOR.  We are often able to help in ways that you may not have imagined.  We know lenders who can come up with interesting and creative ways to help you compete in this seller-friendly market, we have strategies to help you with timing concerns related to selling and buying, we know people who can provide quotes for repair issues, and we are often willing to roll up our sleeves and help you with those piles of clothes that you’ve been meaning to take to Goodwill since 2001.  The solution might not always be perfect, and it might not come from the first person you approach, but the first step is to ask!


In the world of online dating, people have become used to making a quick decision to “swipe left” or “swipe right” based on a cursory glance at a potential suitor’s profile picture and a few short statements about the person’s likes or dislikes. Online home shopping is not that different.  Most potential buyers will access listings through their favorite online resource, look at a couple photos, and make a quick judgment call about whether or not they might be interested in taking a look at the home.  This can be a great way to get familiar with available options, and I encourage my clients to look at houses online.  But, I also urge clients to be careful not to dismiss a home too quickly! The internet can be a great resource in the home search, but sometimes we need to remember to look beyond the photos.

First, do not be deceived by unflattering listing photos.  While many Realtors hire professional photographers who have the equipment to properly showcase the interior rooms in a home, some do not.  Houses that have not been professionally photographed may appear to have smaller rooms or less light than they actually do in “real life.”  When you view a home online that clearly has not been professionally photographed, be sure to look at room size, the number and size of windows, and general floorplan.  It may be that the house is just as roomy and bright as other comparable listings, but has not been photographed in a way that highlights those features.

Next, do not be distracted by wall colors or questionable furniture choices.  A bright purple dining room, or a living room filled with torn overstuffed recliners, might cause you to make a quick decision to move on from a listing.  Resist the urge!  Instead, force yourself to imagine the space painted in a neutral color with tasteful furnishings.  Remember – when you buy the house, you are not buying the furniture.  And, a can of paint can instantly transform a jarring interior palate into a tranquil sea of neutral grey.  The same goes for dirty or stained carpet.  Nobody wants to live in a house bearing the carpet stains of the prior owners.  But consider this – new carpet is not terribly expensive.  And, many homeowners know that if the carpet is not in good shape, buyers may request a “flooring allowance” in their offer to create some free cash to replace the carpet before moving in.

Finally, consider the location before you dismiss a house.  Interior features can be changed, but the location can’t.  If you find a house that is located on the perfect lot, in the perfect neighborhood, in the perfect price range, think hard about asking your REALTOR to schedule an appointment to look inside the home to consider exactly what it might take to bring the house up to your standards.  If you are able to purchase below budget, you may have enough remaining cash to change the interior features that are most important to you.  Also, if you are purchasing new construction, the builder is often willing to consider making certain minor modifications to better suit the buyer’s taste. A little vision in the right neighborhood can really pay off! 

If you are not sure about the hidden potential of a home, ask your REALTOR! He or she can likely make recommendations based on features that are popular among buyers in your market and may also have a ballpark idea of what it may costs to make the upgrades.