Down Payment 41 Realty Group Buyers

How Much Do I Need For A Down Payment?

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, then you might be starting to panic about a down payment. A down payment is the cash amount you’re usually required to pay upfront and is usually a certain percentage of the total. So, for example, a $350,000 home would be $35,000.

When applying for a mortgage to buy a house, your down payment will contribute to the home’s overall purchase price and represent your initial ownership of the home. After that, your mortgage lender provides the rest of the payment for your house, and you’ll make mortgage payments monthly for a pre-determined amount of time. 

Lenders require a down payment to show that you are serious about buying and have the funds to make payments. There are a few exceptions to that, however, and we’ll get into that here. Read on as we talk about everything you need to know about down payments. 

Everything You Need To Know About A Down Payment

Coming up with enough money for a down payment is usually the most significant roadblock when it comes to buying a house. So let’s discuss how much you really need.

Minimum Down Payment Requirements 

Though it’s not always required, you’ll likely hear the advice that you should put at least 20% down on a home to increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage with the best rates. However, it’s important to note that most minimum down payments vary depending on the type of mortgage. 

FHA loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration and can require as little as 3.5% for first-time home buyers.

On the other hand, VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and usually do not require a down payment. These loans are reserved for current and veteran military service members and eligible surviving spouses.

USDA loans, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program, are another loan program that requires no down payment. They are for rural and suburban homebuyers who meet the income limits and basic requirements.

Most down payment requirements can also vary by lender and the borrower’s credit history. For example, loan providers might require a higher down payment if you have a meager credit score, while those who have excellent credit get better rates.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Putting 20% Down?

Though you might not have to put 20% down on your new home, we thought it would be beneficial to look at the pros and cons of how a larger down payment can affect you.


If you can put 20% down, you’ll be able to avoid being required to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is insurance that protects your lender if you default on your mortgage.

Another benefit of putting more of a down payment down on your home is access to better interest rates. The interest rate is known as the percentage of the principal or outstanding balance on your mortgage that your lender will charge you every month. The more money you put down, the less of a risk you seem to lenders.

In addition, when you put down a larger down payment, your overall loan is smaller, which means that you’ll pay less in interest over time. This also translates to smaller monthly payments.

Lastly, larger down payments give you a competitive edge over other buyers. People who have saved more for the home buying process usually have their finances in order, which means you’ll have fewer problems finding a lender.

Cons Of Putting 20% Down

We know that putting that large of an amount isn’t right for every buyer. There are a few drawbacks to saving a 20% down payment.

First, it can feel financially risky. Once you put money down on your mortgage, it’s not easy to get it back. So some might warn you to put a little less down and instead keep liquid cash and build your emergency fund.

Secondly, less money in your bank account means less money for those minor repairs your new home might need. The larger the down payment, the less money you’ll have to take care of things that arise when you first move into your home.

Lastly, it can take a long time to save 20%, and each month you’re not spending paying a mortgage, you’re wasting on rent, which many buyers don’t think is worth the larger down payment.

Can You Buy A House Without A Down Payment?

Yes! As we mentioned above, if you qualify for specific programs, you can buy a home with no money down. In addition, government-backed loans are insured by the government, making them less of a risk for lenders because it promises that the government will cover the financial loss if you default on the loan. This means that lenders will be more willing to give you better interest rates and less strict down payment requirements.

Both VA loans USDA loans have a zero-down payment guarantee, given that you meet the minimum qualifications set by the USDA and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

Bottom Line When It Comes To A Down Payment

Though at the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. An excellent place to start is to look at how your down payment will affect your monthly payment. Talk to your mortgage lender or use any number of online mortgage calculators to help you plan out how much you can reasonably afford. With just some basic info, they can break down your estimated mortgage and help you plan what down payment amount makes sense for you.

Talk to your local real estate agent too. They deal with home buyers every day and have some great resources and references to help you make sure your finances are in order. Do you still have questions? Contact 41 Realty Group today.

DIY Home Projects 41 Realty Group Sellers

DIY Home Projects You Can Tackle In One Weekend

Got a free weekend and looking for DIY home projects that will improve your home and maybe even add to your home’s value? We’ve compiled a list of DIY projects you should hopefully be able to tackle in one weekend! We tried to choose items that weren’t too complicated or too expensive so that you could check off your to-do list and add value to your space without breaking the bank.

Ready to take on a home improvement project? Let’s go!

5 DIY Home Projects You Can Do Quickly and Easily

The coronavirus pandemic has driven most of us inside, and we are all spending more time at home than ever. Have you started making a list of home projects that would make your home a little more attractive or functional? Then, get ready to add a few more items to your to-do list! From installing a new backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom, or finally painting that front door, check out some of our easy DIY home projects that you can tackle this weekend.

Install Your Own Peel-And-Stick Backsplash

The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home, and if you’re tired of looking at the dingy and dull backsplash in your kitchen, then it might be time to upgrade. Updating your kitchen is as easy as purchasing a peel-and-stick backsplash. Removable tiles are the way to go when you want to get your project done in one quick weekend. These are also a great option if you’re renting and want to personalize your space without damaging the walls.

In terms of DIY home projects, replacing the backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom is a great option because there are so many options so you can match your style exactly. In addition, you can make it bold and stand out to drawn attention, or keep it classic and neutral – whatever your heart desires.

Build Your Own Fire Pit

Love to spend time outside with your family? Why not install a permanent fire pit that looks elegant and inviting. Your local hardware store will have everything you need – concrete wall blocks, pebbles, and a paver base. In just a couple of hours, you can have a professionally looking fire pit that everyone will love. 

If you want your home to be the go-to place for parties and events, then a fire pit might just be the way to go. Here’s a guide to help you build it on your own.

Paint The Front Door and The Shutters

Another easy and fun DIY home project is to update the curb appeal! Paint your front door a fresh and bright color, replace the old hardware, and invest in some potted plants you can put near the entrance of your home. You might even consider installing outdoor lighting to enhance your home’s natural architecture and illuminate the porch or walkway. 

Consider replacing your welcome mat and painting your shutters to match your new door to make a bold and welcoming entrance. 

Construct A Set Of Garage Shelves

If you have a free weekend, now is a great time to take care of that cluttered garage. DIY garage shelves are excellent to handle that mess once and for all. Floor-to-ceiling garage shelves seem to be a staple in most garages, though they don’t always come with the house. Get all your family’s knick-knacks off the floor and on the wall so that you can finally park in your garage.

Clear storage bins are another great way to help you stay organized and quickly find what you need right when you need it. Organize by season and never again buy new decorations because you don’t want to wade through the clutter.

Switch To Energy Efficient Windows

Another project that is probably the most expensive on our DIY home projects list is switching to energy-efficient windows. Especially if you have an older home with single-pane windows, you could be wasting quite a lot of energy, making your bills go up more than they should. So instead, improve your home’s efficiency by replacing single-pane windows with high-performance double-pane windows. 

Though it costs a lot initially, it could save you a lot of money yearly. 

Replace Your Shower Head and Hardware

One straightforward and relatively inexpensive project is to replace the hardware throughout your home. One winner when it comes to adding value to your home is to choose a low-flow showerhead that gives you the same sensation but helps you save on your water bill. In addition, you should check your hard-water status. Many new showerheads provide more control options and are more efficient. 

Add new hardware throughout your bathroom or in the kitchen to add a spa-like or luxurious feel without remodeling the entire space. For example, new handles on cabinets can go a long way in making your whole home feel updated.

Ask Your Real Estate Agent For What Buyers Are Looking For

If you’re thinking about selling, or it might be a possibility down the road, then you might tailor your DIY home projects towards those potential buyers. The best way to find out what buyers are looking for when buying homes is to talk to your real estate agent. Trends come and go, and your real estate agent is usually right on the pulse of those trends. They might be able to give you good advice about which style of backsplash tile to use, what paint colors are best, and what things you should avoid. If you’re in the market and need help buying or selling, let 41 Realty Group hold your hand through the process. Our team really cares, and will be your champion when it comes to negotiations, paperwork, dealing with buyers, and more. We’d love to answer your real estate questions and help you on your real estate journey. Get in touch with us here.

Touring Billings, Montana - 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

Touring Billings, Montana Video Series (Videos 1-3)

Nicole King, broker, and owner of 41 Realty Group has been recording a Touring Billings series on her YouTube channel to showcase some of the best parts of Billings, Montana. So far she’s covered Pioneer Park, Rimrock Road, and Forest Park Subdivision. 

Watch the full videos of each place below or read the transcripts to learn more about each place.

Videos 1-3 of Touring Billings, Montana Video Series

What are your favorite neighborhoods in Billings? View our first three videos in the Touring Billings, Montana series, and then let us know which neighborhoods we should cover next!

Touring Billings #1 – Pioneer Park

Nicole: Hey there! I’m Nicole King, broker/owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to a new video series, where we explored various areas of Billings. 

Today, we’re in the area surrounding Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park is a 32-acre city park just north of Senior High School. It’s between 3rd and Virginia. Located within the park is a wading pool, playground, tennis courts, restrooms, horseshoe pits, mutli-use trails, barbecue areas, a folf course, and plenty of green space with mature trees which is perfect for winter sledding.

The Zimmerman Center also sits just inside the park just off of Virginia and Ave E. It is a great place to host events. With this park being centrally located and it providing so many activities and beautiful scenery, it’s no wonder that the neighborhoods surround it are some of the most requested by buyers.

The areas around the park have been formally and informally named The Avenues, North Elevations, The Tree Streets, and The Poets. Those names are mostly not a mystery in origin. The Poets are named after famous poets like Longfellow and Whittier. The Tree Streets have strong names like Elm and Maple. The Avenues include Avenues B – F. And lastly there’s the North Elevation, which is a several block radius slightly to the east of Pioneer Park that is on the national register of historic places. 

It’s easy to see why so many folks love these neighborhoods. The welcoming craftsman, bungalow, and tudor-style homes along well-manicured tree-lined streets harken back to what can seem like a much similar time in history.

There are creaky wood floors, stately fireplaces, cross-hatched windows, and built-in doors and cabinets that bring the famed “character” to these homes. Buying one of these homes means embracing the quirks and inconveniences of a by-gone era, plus oftentimes needing to do expensive updates, like replacing knob-and-tube wiring, getting rid of lead-based paint asbestos, and replacing windows and adding insulation to improve efficiency.

One truly must have the love and patients for the issues of an old home. Each of these areas has their own cost variations and frequency in which homes become available. In the past 5 years, between 4-7 houses have sold each year in The Poets, but in the year 2018, none sold. The average price-point of homes sold so far in 2020 is $343,000. However, many of the larger and more expensive homes haven’t been on the market in decades, but would easily approach several hundred thousand and even over a million dollars. 

In the past five years, about fifteen houses have sold each year in the tree streets. The average price of homes sold so far in 2020 was just under $285,000. The Avenues and the North Elevation overlap one another. Usually only about 10 to 15 home sell in this area each year, but 2020 has seen a spike in over 25 sold so far, with an average price of about $256,000.

No matter where you choose to live in Billings, you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for turn-of-the-century charm amidst a canopy of trees, are comfortable keeping up with the demands of an older home, and are pre-approved for a loan in at least the mid-200s, the areas around Pioneer park might just be perfect for you.

Thank you for touring a bit of Billings with me today. If you have questions about these or any other parts of the Greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email me anytime. Until next time, make it a great day, y’all.

Touring Billings #2 – Rimrock Road

Nicole: Hey there! I’m Nicole King, broker/owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. As you drive down Rimrock Road, heading west, you’ll see dozens of streets branching off near the Rims. These short, mostly dead-end streets feature an incredible array of architecture. No two homes are the same, and they range in age from the early 1900s to as recent as this year. 

There are a handful of vacant lots to be built on as well, but they’ll set you back about a little over $100,000 to purchase. As we continue our tour of Billings, let’s take a closer look at these less-traveled streets above Rimrock and find out what they offer. 

Many buyers ask to be in this area due to the towering trees, large yards, and easy access to most other areas of town. Rimrock Road itself connects to major roads like Airport, Virginia, 13th, Zimmerman, and Shiloh. From those, it’s just a few minutes to the Heights, downtown, King Avenue, Shiloh Crossing, and the interstate.

Aside from convenience, these sloped streets offer solitude that is often paired with incredible views of Yellowstone Valley and the nearby mountain ranges. The area is a comfortable mix of small and large homes, homes that could use some updating and homes that have already been fully renovated. 

There are pocket parks sprinkled throughout, some with play equipment while some are left natural. One of the best sledding hills in Billings, Rimpoint Park, can be found just above Rimrock, a few blocks west of Shiloh. Make sure you check it out this Winter!

Usually between 80 and 90 houses sell each year in this area. 2020 has already seen more than 75 sales, and the price point of those has been about $345,000. The better-known subdivisions of Gregory Hills, Wilshire Height, and Castlewood have large signs at their entrances. Watch for them the next time you’re driving down Rimrock and then maybe turn in and drive the quaint streets and fall in love with yet another great area of Billings.

Thank you for touring a bit more of the Billings area with me today. If you have questions about these or any other parts of the Greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email me anytime. Until next time, make it a great day.

Touring Billings #3 – Forest Park Subdivision

Nicole: Hey there! I’m Nicole King, broker/owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. Do you drive by these walls all the time and wonder, “what is behind them?” You’d be right if you assumed they are stately homes, perfectly manicured lawns, and to-die-for master suites. You would also be right if you thought there would be friendly neighbors, meandering walking paths, and a labyrinth of streets that I quickly got lost on. Welcome to Forest Park! Let’s explore.

With the exception of this beautiful patio-home community located at the South entrance of the subdivision, most of the homes are single-family residences. The curbed streets of the subdivision keep the traffic moving slowly, as most people want to take their time admiring these beautiful homes.

Forest Park got its start in the late 60s. Many of the homes were built between then and the late 70s. A few were sprinkled in between the 80s and 90s, but there was a large push for construction between the early 2000s to about 2016. Most of the homes are very large with several bedrooms and bathrooms.

If you’re wanting to move into Forest Park, you’ll need to watch the market carefully, since only about 15 properties sell here each year. The average price point for the ten that sold in 2020 was about $421,000. Now, keep in mind that most of the homes that sell in this area are exceptionally well-maintained, but they can also be time-capsules for the era in which they were built. The average price point is high, and you might also need a healthy remodel budget for post-closing updates.

Thank you for touring another part of Billings with me today. If you have questions about Forest Park or any other part of the greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email me anytime. Until next time, make it a great day!

Dream Home 41 Realty Group Buyers

4 Ways To Get The Dream Home You Really…

Have you been imagining your dream home and are ready to get out of the rental game? Buying the home you’ve always dreamed about is one of those life accomplishments that tops everyone’s bucket list. Though we all have different items on our wish list, most of us hope to find a home that feels explicitly like it was made for us.

There are several things to consider as you search for that perfect property for you and your family. First, you’ll want to look for your dream home in a location that you’re family will be happy in for a long time. Then, don’t be afraid to be a little bit picky, and hold out until you find the home that feels right. Read on for more tips to help you find the right home (and be able to afford it when you do!).

Tips To Help You Get Your Dream Home

Buying a home is an exciting time, especially when you find the perfect home on your first try. However, there is a lot to do when it comes to the buying process. Here are a few tips to help you get into your dream home.

Get Pre-Approved

Assuming you aren’t going to pay for it with cash, the first thing you need to do is to get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. Pre-approval is essential when you’re ready to start looking for your dream home for two reasons. First, it tells sellers that you’re a serious buyer, and second, it means you exactly how much you’re qualified to borrow. 

Without taking this step, you might end up falling in love with a house that you can’t afford. Getting your finances sorted before you even start looking will help you set better expectations, and you won’t end up with any frustrating surprises later on.

Set Your Dream Home Budget

Now that you have a ballpark of how much you qualify for, you can start to set a reasonable budget for yourself. Typically it is recommended that you strive for a mortgage payment that is no more than 25% of your take-home pay on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Though 30-year mortgages seem more affordable, you end up paying a fortune in interest – which only builds the bank’s wealth.

In addition, when you set your budget, you’ll also want to account for some of the costs that go into buying a new home, like higher utilities, new furniture, or even HOA fees. Don’t forget to budget for home-buying expenses, too, like moving costs, closing fees, and upgrades and repairs within the home itself. Finally, you want to plan for any hidden fees, so your savings don’t get any more depleted.

Find a Real Estate Agent You Trust

Once you’ve been approved for a mortgage and have a better idea of your budget, it’s time to find a real estate agent. There are several ways to go about choosing an agent. The first is to ask for referrals. Ask your friends and family who they’ve used and liked in the past. 

Your mortgage lender might also have a team or broker in mind when they meet with new clients. Once you have collected a few names from the people you trust, call and meet up with prospective agents and figure out who you might want to move forward with. 

When you choose your agent, you should keep in mind how long they’ve been working in the industry, what their main niche is, and how familiar they are with your area. It’s also a good idea to confirm their method of communication and make sure they are available when you need them.

Choose The Right Location 

You’ve heard the old adage – Location! Location! Location! This definitely rings true when it comes to finding your dream home. 

It’s important to remember that your house itself isn’t enough to be considered your dream home. Instead, it’s part of a larger community that you and your family have to exist in on a daily basis. With that in mind, you must find a neighborhood that suits your family’s needs too. For example, do you want to be close to downtown so you can walk or bike to local events? Are you looking for a suburb where you and your kids can play and feel safe? 

Creating this wishlist will help your agent narrow down their inventory and help you find the perfect home in the area you want to be in. 

Consider Lot Location and Size

The lot in which your home sits is often an afterthought when it comes to purchasing a home, but we think you should add it to the top of your list. Of course, you can always alter your home and upgrade its interior, but you can’t change the land. 

When looking at specific properties, consider the lot’s location and size before officially submitting an offer. Does it have that big backyard you’ve always dreamed about? Does it have a great view you’ll be happy to look out for years to come? If anything about the property seems like a compromise to you, it might be a good idea to walk away. It’s better to choose the better lot with a fixer-upper house than it is to select an updated house on a poor lot. 


When it comes to buying your dream home, it’s important that you are patient and don’t be afraid to be picky. Wait for the right house at the time. We’ve seen many buyers who just settle for a house they don’t love just because they were tired of looking. 

The key is to find yourself a good real estate agent who has a deep understanding of your needs and doesn’t want you to settle for good enough. The right agent will be just as committed to your dream as you are and will have your back throughout the entire process. 

Get in touch with our team at 41 Realty Group. We would love to help you prepare to buy a house and find your dream home. Start by searching our available properties here or calling us directly at (406) 969-4141.

Seller's Market vs. Buyer's Market 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

What Does Sellers Market Vs. Buyers Market Really Mean?

Are you wondering when the best time to buy or sell a home is? Though it does seem like certain seasons are busier than others, the real estate market fluctuates due to buy and demand rather than by the time of year. That’s why if you’re considering buying or selling a home, it’s essential to pay attention to the housing market and know the difference between a seller’s market vs. a buyer’s market. 

Not sure what those terms mean? Don’t worry! This article is here to give you a crash course on what buyer’s market and seller’s market means and how they can affect you. That way, you have the upper hand when you’re ready to buy or sell or just want to stay on top of the real estate market.

The Difference Between A Sellers Market Vs. Buyers Market

If you’re wondering if your local area is experiencing a seller’s market vs. buyer’s market, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s crucial you understand what’s happening in your local housing market so that you can get the best price for your home.

Let’s start by defining a seller’s market.

What Is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market comes about when there are fewer homes for sale than buyers, giving sellers more negotiating power. When this happens, the median prices for homes increase significantly, putting buyers in difficult positions.

Read on for a few strategies that buyers can utilize when they find themselves trying to buy in a seller’s market.

Strategies for Buyers

You can do several things as a buyer to ensure you’re ready to go when the right house comes along. 

First, prepare for bidding wars. The market is competitive, and other buyers likely see the same things you see in a house. Talk to your real estate and decide a firm price limit at the start based on what you can afford and what the home is worth. Being the winning bidder means nothing if the home appraises too low for your financing to get approved.

Next, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage before you even start looking. Getting pre-approved shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is financially capable of making good on your home offer.

Lastly, act quickly and make your offer simple. Homes won’t stay on the market long, so you want to make a move quickly. It’s also tempting to waive contingencies when trying to get the upper hand. Don’t do this and risk buying a home that has significant problems down the road. Instead, make offers simple by including the financing contingency, the inspection contingency, appraisal contingency, and a standard closing period of 30 to 45 days.

3 Strategies for Sellers

Though it seems silly to list a strategy for sellers in a seller’s market, there are still a few things you should do to get the best price for your home.

The first thing you should do is list your home at marketing value. It might be tempting to list it extremely high, but overpriced homes will likely turn buyers off, and mortgage companies will likely get denied when an appraisal can’t support the increased offer price.

Next, consult with your real estate agent so that you know how to choose the best offer. The offer that sounds the best and the offer that actually closes isn’t necessarily the same. The right buyer will have all their finances in order and are ready to go quickly, even if it’s not the highest offer.

It’s also a good idea to have your next home lined up, as it’s likely your home will sell within days. If you happen to get a cash offer, your house could close within a week or two. That doesn’t give you much time to find a new place to live, especially when inventory is already low.

What Is a Buyer’s Market?

A buyer’s market exists when more homes are for sale than potential buyers, giving buyers the upper hand over sellers. Let’s discuss strategies for buyers and seller’s in a buyer’s market. 

3 Strategies for Buyers

You can take advantage of your negotiating power to get a better deal in a buyer’s market. For example, you can offer less than the asking price, as a seller whose home has been on the market for a while might be willing to lower the price. 

You might also be able to ask for seller concessions, which means asking the seller to pay some or all of your closing costs. Other possibilities include asking sellers to be flexible with the closing date or asking them to include appliances in the price. 

Don’t be shy about asking for what you want – and that includes asking for repairs. The home inspection will let you know what needs to get fixed, and the sellers might be motivated to improve those for you.

3 Strategies for Sellers

In a buyer’s market, sellers shouldn’t let buyers walk all over them. So here are a few tips to help you handle a market that’s slightly working against you.

First, highlight your home’s competitive advantage. What does your home offer that other homes don’t have? Make sure your listing highlights those. Then, if you feel like your home doesn’t have some of those extra advantages, create them! Get the interior and exterior repainted, hire a handyman to finish all of those nagging projects, use a professional stager – anything you can to give your home a leg up.

Make room in your budget for buyer concessions. In a market where buyers will likely be asking for extras, plan for those in your listing price so that you still get a reasonable price without losing too much money.

Lastly, make sure you get a pre-inspection so that you can identify any potential issues before buyers do. This gives you a chance to fix the problems before you list or lower the price accordingly if you don’t want to fix them yourself.

A Final Word On Sellers Market Vs. Buyers Market

When you break it all down, it helps buyers and sellers know what’s going on in the market. As a buyer, you’ll want to purchase your home in a buyer’s market, as this indicates an influx of available homes, which means less competition. As a seller, you hope that you’ll be able to list during a seller’s market because it means there are fewer homes for sale, and your house will likely have several people interested.

Regardless of what’s happening in your area, the best thing you can do is hire a real estate agent to help you navigate the tricky waters that are real estate. Hiring a competent real estate agent can give you a leg up on the competition and ensure you get the best price for your home.

Get in touch with us here and let us help get your questions answered about the current market, and get some tips so that you get the most bang for your buck.

Prepare To Sell Your House 41 Realty Group Sellers

7 Things To Do As You Prepare To Sell…

Are you thinking about selling your house? Then there’s work to be done! If you want to get the most out of your sale, then there are lots of things you should do before listing your home. There’s a lot more involved than simply planting a “For Sale” sign on your front lawn or sharing photos of your home on social media.

Before you put your house on the market, there are a few things you need to do to prepare to sell your home. Some of these things are easy, while others are a little more time-consuming, but most of these tips will pay off in the long run.

Prepare To Sell Your House With These Easy Tips

The first thing we suggest you do before putting your house on the market is to ask your real estate what they think. They will be able to tell you what buyers are looking for, what your home will likely sell for as is, and so much more. Next, let’s dive into ways you can prepare to sell your house so that you can get more bang for your buck.

Find A Great Real Estate Agent

As we already mentioned, it’s best to consult a real estate agent. It’s not usually a good idea to try to sell your house on your own. Though you might save on commission fees, it could be disastrous and end up costing time and money. Instead, consult with a trustworthy real estate agent right from the beginning, and you’ll likely get much more than you would on your own. 

However, we’ll be the first to tell you that you can’t just hire the first agent you find on Google. In fact, it might also not be a great idea to hire your cousin or uncle’s friend’s coworker or whoever. Instead, do a little research and check out testimonials and reviews. The best real estate agent will be the one who is knowledgeable about the market and will take the time to get to know your specific needs. 

The ideal real estate agent will be someone you feel comfortable working with and someone you trust will sell your home for a great price and have your best interests at heart.

Welcome Buyers By Updating Your Curb Appeal

What is the first thing potential buyers will see when it comes to your house? Your front door! Make your front door visible and accessible to buyers by updating the curb appeal. Paint your front door, clear all trash and debris, mow the lawn, prune the hedges, etc.,. Another idea is to pot or plant colorful annuals and perennials to up the attraction. It’s also a good idea to fix any broken screens, doorbells, shingles, and even outdoor lighting. Any exterior defects can make a poor first impression on buyers. 

Declutter Living Areas

When it comes to preparing your home to sell, less is more. First, try. to do a clean sweep of counters and tables and clear out as much clutter as you can. Then search through closets and drawers and try to get rid of some of the excess junk you’ve accumulated over the years. After all, buyers will look everywhere if considering your home as theirs, and they want to be able to see the space they might live in. They want to imagine their own things in the house.

If your house is overflowing and overcluttered, buyers might worry that the house won’t have ample space for their own belongings. See if you can donate some of your extra things or pack them up early and store them off-site if you can. Not only will that look appealing to buyers, but it will also make it easier for your move since many of your items will 

Depersonalize The Space

The next step on your checklist when you’re trying to prepare to buy a house is to depersonalize the space as much as you can. Remove all distractions that might hinder buyers from visualizing themselves and their families living in your home. Remove personal items and family photos, and try to keep the house as neutral as possible. The end goal is to create a blank canvas so that buyers can project their own visions of living there and imagining themselves in the space.

Go Neutral and Fix The Little Things

The best thing to do is a well-done, no-frills paint job with a fresh coat of paint to make everything feel clean. Repaint any bright or eccentric walls, and give the house a nature or spa-inspired feel with neutral colors like taupe and gray. Don’t forget to spruce up the trim and molding, either! Even fresh paint on the kitchen cabinets can go a long way into making your home feel updated and new.

In addition, it’s essential to go through the house and fix the small stuff. Repair and replace broken or outdated hardware throughout your home. This could mean installing new door handles, towel bars, and even curtain rods. Any fixtures that are visible to homebuyers can be replaced relatively inexpensively. New hardware throughout the home can improve the functionality and show buyers you care about the house.

Clean Clean Clean

If you really want to go the extra mile, it might be a good idea to hire a professional cleaning crew before an open house or viewings. Some cleaning steps might include washing the windows, renting a pressure washer for the exterior, and polishing the chrome faucets and mirrors. In addition, ensure that all of the dust has been cleaned from under the furniture, on top of cabinets, and wherever else it might be hiding.

You can maintain a professional level of cleanliness by vacuuming daily, waxing floors, and constantly wiping down bathrooms and kitchen spotless. Another tip is to hang up fresh guest towels and keep the toilet lid down whenever people come over to view your house.

Kitchens are a big selling point for many buyers, so it’s crucial to make yours as uncluttered and spotless as possible. It’s also essential to make sure you avoid odorous foods such as fish, garlic, or cabbage – these smells linger, and you don’t want potential buyers thinking that’s the way the house smells all the time. The same goes for pets. Monitor litter boxes or other spots affected by pets and make sure everything smells fresh and clean. 

Get a Home Inspection

One of the main things you should do before selling your home is hire a home inspector. Although buyers usually have the home inspected, it’s a good idea to have the house checked beforehand. Getting an inspection done before you even list will help you identify any potential issues that may come up during the sale so that you can get ahead of them.

Let 41 Realty Group Help You Prepare To Sell Your House

Are you ready to sell your home but need help? Let the experts at 41 Realty Group help you navigate the selling process. We do the hard work for you so that you don’t have to. Get in touch with our team here.

Prepare To Buy A House 41 Realty Group Buyers

4 Things To Do To Prepare To Buy A…

Looking for what steps you need to take in order to prepare to buy a house? If you’re looking to put your rental days behind you and move into a home you can finally call your own. Now’s the time to start planning. Even if you don’t think that you’ll be ready in six months or a year from now, there are things you can do to prepare yourself and your family. Crossing the following items off your list will make the home-buying process a little bit easier. Read on for a couple of tips you can get started on right away. 

Prepare To Buy A House With These Tips

Getting ready to buy your first house can feel a little bit overwhelming. From credit scores to down payments, mortgages, and more, there is a lot to process. So here’s a brief guide to help you get ready to make one of the most significant purchases of your life. Prepare to buy a house with these easy tips.

Check Your Credit & Start Saving

A good credit score is one of the first things mortgage lenders look for when you’re considering buying a home. It proves that you’ve got a good track record at paying off past debts like student loans and credit card bills. The higher your credit score, the easier it is to qualify for lower interest rates and help make your home more affordable. 

Several credit reporting agencies are available online, and many of them will keep you a free copy from all three credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Many of these sites will also give you ways to help you improve your credit and give you an overview of why you have the score you have.

Having cash reserves is also essential for buying a home, as you need to prove to a lender that you can afford housing payments, even payments that might be higher than your current rental rates. This means that you should start saving now! In addition, you’ll need to prepare for a down payment, inspections fees, and maybe more.

Get Your Documents In Order & Talk To A Mortgage Lender

If you’re close to putting an offer on a house, you’ll want to start collecting documents that verify your finances. This includes paystubs, W-2’s, bank statements, and even copies of tax returns. Too often, homebuyers don’t consider mortgage shopping until it’s too late, and someone else buys their dream home who had their finances in better order. A mortgage pre-qualification and mortgage pre-approval can help you with the buying process. Though these two steps sound very similar, they are, in fact, quite different. 

A pre-qualification is a preliminary step in providing the mortgage lender with just some basic information about your finances online. Though it isn’t verified, it can be used to determine whether you might qualify for financing. On the other hand, a pre-approval involves submitting an actual mortgage application and providing your lender with supporting documentation. This usually includes tax returns, paycheck stubs, financial statements, a credit check, and more.

Getting pre-approved is the most crucial step before even starting before house-hunting. Some Realtors and sellers will only work with pre-approved buyers. 

Mortgage lenders will review all of your information and determine how much you can afford to spend on a property. Though a pre-approval doesn’t 100% guarantee financing, it does go a long way to making it happen. A pre-approval tells you what you will be able to afford before searching for a home – which makes it a significant step.

Find A Real Estate Agent

Though buying a home can be complicated and even intimidating, it gets much easier when you have a professional on your side to answer questions and look out for your best interests. A buyer’s agent can help you find the right house, give you negotiation advice, and get you a reasonable price for your future home.

Don’t rely on the seller’s agent to provide advice and guidance, as it’s their job to help the seller, not the buyer. Though we’d love for you to consider our team at 41 Realty Group, you should always get recommendations from your friends and family. In addition, read online reviews, talk to a few agents, and get advice from other people who have bought a home recently before making a final decision.

Make Sure You Have Earnest Money Ready To Go

As we mentioned before, it’s good to have cash reserves on hand when trying to prepare to buy a house. Once you find that perfect property, you’ll be required to submit an earnest money check with your offer. Earnest money is basically good faith money that says, “I’m a serious buyer.”

Though the actual amounts vary from house to house, they typically range from 1% to 2% of the purchase price – usually a minimum of $1,000. Of course, the seller doesn’t get this money; to be clear, funds are held in an escrow account and are either returned to you at closing or applied to either closing costs and/or your down payment.

Final Thoughts To Prepare To Buy A House

We know that buying a house is a huge decision. But, even in this market, where it feels like there aren’t a lot of homes on the market, you shouldn’t rush. Don’t act too quickly or skip vital steps like a home inspection or getting preapproved. At 41 Realty Group, we want you to find the home of your dream at the price you can afford. So let us help you prepare to buy a house and get all of your real estate questions answered. We’ll help you find the right mortgage lender, help you with the paperwork, and of course, walk you through every step of the process. Get in touch with us here.

Harper & Madison 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

Best of Billings Video Series – A Closer Look…

One of our favorite places in Billings, Montana, is Harper & Madison. Nicole King, owner and broker of 41 Realty Group interviews the owner of Harper & Madison to learn a little bit more about the history of this incredible coffee shop and bakery. 

Read on for the full transcript of the video.

Harper & Madison – An Inside Look At The Restaurant We Love In Billings, MT

Nicole: Hey there I’m Nicole King I’m the broker-owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana and today we get to sit down with Joanie. Joanie owns Harper and Madison, you’ve probably driven by it plenty of times when you’ve headed either away from the hospitals toward Pioneer Park or the opposite direction. They’re on 10th Avenue North, you can’t miss them – they are the cutest little shop and when you come in you can see that this is just the most welcoming and wonderful space.

so Joanie thank you so much for sitting down with me today. Tell us how you came to be, how did you get to be in this location, how’d you name your restaurant – anything you think we should know.

Joanie: The story, okay, this is actually my third business and it’s my favorite by far. I started this business 10 years ago.

Nicole: Congratulations!

Joanie: Thanks, and originally it was going to be out on the west end on Zimmerman. I had actually signed a lease there, but it wasn’t feeling right so I was searching for a different location that felt right and I never drive down 10th avenue but for some reason, that day I was driving down 10th avenue and I saw a big for sale sign in the window of this building and I screeched to a halt. I really didn’t even close my door I ran from my car and looked in the window and I said that’s it. I knew that i wanted to have a place that was unique in Billings and not about volume and crazy busy. I wanted a place where I could build community and this seemed like exactly the right location for that and it has been.

Nicole: Yeah for sure. Great job. I think building community is exactly what you do.

Joanie: Thanks, thanks.

Nicole: And so then you set about naming it and figuring out what it looks like.

Joanie: Right originally I had planned on just opening a bakery and it accidentally turned itself into a restaurant within a few days, you know. I had five sandwiches on the menu just in case someone would like to come in from the hospital or the clinic and and grab lunch but uh like i said within three days it was clear that I had accidentally opened a restaurant so we went with that and it’s been that for the last 10 years, up until recently.

Nicole: Yeah.

Joanie: The name comes from my kids my daughter is Harper and my son is Madison and they have literally worked with me since they were toddlers my son used to call us “Team Cake.”

Nicole: Oh my gosh, that is the cutest. I love it.

Joanie: So it felt good and uh and it makes me just – I feel like I have them here with me even though they’re far away now.

Nicole: Sure, yeah. so originally when you opened you had really long hours, a huge menu, and then recently kind of revaluated as everything shut down, did some remodeling – tell me about that process.

Joanie: We did we’ve, we’ve gone through a couple of transitions. This last time was definitely COVID-related when we had to restrict our seating, it was no longer feasible to support a staff of 12, even doing takeout. And besides, that isn’t what we’re here for. We’re not here to become a fast-food restaurant.

It really is a place for people to come and sit and be loved through food. So I made the decision to downsize. The sad part was letting some of my staff go because they were all wonderful. We went from a staff of 12 to a staff of five and decided to become a patisserie. So we sell European style desserts and a few breakfast items but we no longer do food to order, so it’s not that fast-paced busy crazy restaurant.

It’s more like the original vision that I had for it which is sweet so I guess if anything good came out of COVID it led me to where it is now.

Nicole: Oh that’s beautiful beautiful story and your food is beautiful.

Joanie: Thanks.

Nicole: What’s in those cabinets and what comes out on the plates is just gorgeous. You can tell so much love has gone into it so much thought about the ingredients and the presentation, everything.

I saw a picture of a sandwich from your brother the other day.

Joanie: Yes.

Nicole: It’s got this great bow on it and everything oh my gosh, it’s wonderful.

Joanie: We have a motto here and that is yeah, it all matters.

Nicole: Yeah, it feels like it for sure. So what are your hours?

Joanie: We’re open Tuesday through Saturday from seven to one.

Nicole: Okay.

Joanie: We do have seating and so you can come in and enjoy one of our breakfast items or a pastry or a dessert, a great cup of coffee, and just relax and and be loved on.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, wow that is amazing. The another thing that you’re doing is that we’ve partnered with you for the benefit of veterans. So your family has a long history of military service, thank you to your entire family for everything. Both to those who have served to sacrifice but then also all the sacrifice of, you know, family members.

Joanie: Yeah, yeah, I have many men in my family who have served in the military and you know they have shared with me what that was like. It’s a sacrifice that I can’t imagine making so that when you approached me about partnering, I was more than happy to say yes to that.

Nicole: Oh well, we really appreciate it so anybody can come down here, order a cup of coffee, and five cents for every cup sold this year is going to go directly to the help of veterans.

Joanie: So we need to sell a lot of coffee.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, come down get some coffee, enjoy everything else that’s on their menu. Be loved on through food as Joanie says. Come down to harper madison and experience it for yourself.

Joanie: Thanks for having me!

Nicole: Thanks for having me!

Real Estate Investing Tips 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

Real Estate Investing Tips For Beginners

Real estate investing has proven to be one of the main ways to build wealth for a long time. Real estate is never a bad investment, as it can be a viable way to build monthly cash flow, help you retire more easily, and help you reach your financial goals. 

However, successfully investing in real estate can be difficult in today’s competitive market. Deals are becoming more and more complex, and even one mistake can cost investors a lot of money. So save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and money by reading some of our real estate investing tips (and mistakes to avoid) and getting in touch with one of our agents today! 

The Best Real Estate Investing Tips For Those Just Getting Started

In this article, we’ll give you a basic overview of things to consider if you want to start investing in real estate. Then, hopefully, you’ll discover some actionable real estate investing tips to help you know where to look, the types of real estate to buy, and more! 

Define Your Real Estate Investment Goals

The first real estate investing tip we have for you is to clarify your individual investment goals. When it comes to making investment decisions, you’ll want to determine a clear strategy to reach those goals. Know where you want to go and how you plan to get there – before you spend all of your hard-earned savings on real estate.

There are so many factors and variables in real estate investing, so it’s essential to do some market research and talk to experts to help you formulate a personal real estate investment strategy. For example, what type of real estate are you planning on investing in? Residential, commercial, land, or particular use? 

Plus, there are several strategies you might consider – core, value-add, and opportunistic. While one person might thrive on opportunistic fix-and-flip properties, others find that core buy-and-hold longer-term investments suit them better. 

First-time investors should do some research, talk to agents in their market, and pick a strategy they think will work best for them and their personal goals. Stick to your goals and fine-tune your investment strategy along the way.

Order Inspections and Appraisals Before Buying

One of the most important real estate investing tips we give first-time investors is to always always always get an inspection before buying. Home inspections will show you all the “red flags” that might be a part of the property. These issues are good to know early so that you can plan for repairs and renovations and adjust your budget accordingly. In addition, inspections will show you the difference between a sound investment and a high-risk investment. 

Additionally, property appraisals are beneficial because they give you an analysis of the past, current, and predicted future value of the investment property. Don’t take a chance on guessing what the property is worth; get a professional opinion! Appraisers will also give you a reasonable estimate of what you can likely charge in monthly rent once you’ve fixed up the property. 

Join a local networking group

There are thousands of real estate investing groups across the country. Consider joining a couple and participating in local groups too! Joining groups will help you meet people to help you and introduce you to new topics and processes you might not have been exposed to before. 

Joining these groups can provide opportunities for education, mentorship, new deals, and so much more. Plus, many of these groups have local businesses you can support, and who doesn’t want to give back to the community?

Don’t Go Overboard With Renovations

Especially with fix and flip properties, don’t go crazy with renovations. You don’t have to blow your whole budget making your investment property look like it’s out of a home improvement magazine, especially when it comes to accents and fixtures. 

You want it to look modern and clean, but you don’t have to go overboard. If you’re selling, the buyers will want to put their own flair on the home, and renters won’t want to pay more monthly just because you went a little overboard with the renovation budget. 

Pair Up With Experts

We’ve mentioned it before, but investing in real estate has a lot of moving pieces. So it’s critical that when you first start out, you partner up with experts in each area of the process. Having people who have done what you’re trying to do will help you minimize mistakes. 

One thing you should do is align yourself with a real estate agent you trust, as they have access to tools and resources that could be beneficial to you. Plus, many real estate agents are investors themselves, and they can give you more tips and help you avoid mistakes. Don’t reinvent the wheel when others have already paved the way with proven processes that work.

Pros of Real Estate Investing

Now that you’ve got a few real estate investing tips to consider let’s discuss some of the appeal of real estate. First, it’s much less risky than investing in the stock market. Though you might not have the same earning potential, you can pretty much count on making a return when it comes to real estate. 

One main pro of investing in real estate is the steady cash flow. When you have enough rental properties and trustworthy tenants, this becomes a stable revenue stream for your business. Owning real estate also comes with tax breaks – you can deduct all sorts of expenses from your taxes. These include mortgage interest, depreciation, property tax, and more. 

Lastly, long-term returns are often properties, because over time, most properties increase in value.

Cons of Real Estate Investing

As with every potential investment, there are some risks to consider. For example, potential returns aren’t as high as the stock market, and the time it takes for you to see that return could be a lot longer. Also, unlike stocks, you can’t turn a property into cash quickly, as they aren’t liquid investments. 

Additionally, real estate investing can be pretty cash-heavy. Especially if you’re looking to create a steady stream of income, you’ll likely need cash on hand to get started. Whether’s you’ve saved the money or acquired a loan, you’ll need to be able to pay for building improvements, maintenance, and more. 

Managing tenants and taking care of maintenance can be a challenge too. Whether you hire a property manager or try to manage it yourself, there can be many unexpected problems that come up. Though it can be really rewarding, it’s important to consider that with rentals come overdue rent, roof leaks, power outages, finding qualified tenants, and more.


Real estate investing is a fantastic opportunity to explore new financial avenues and help you plan for retirement or simply create a new form of income. We hope that a couple of the above real estate investing tips help you feel better about getting started. If you want to learn more about investing in real estate, set up a strategy meeting with us at 41 Realty Group. We’ll discuss your concerns, answer your questions, and help you find the right property for your first investment. Give us a call to get started at (406) 969-4141.

Open House Etiquette 41 Realty Group Buyers

Post-Pandemic Open House Etiquette Tips

Though the world finally seems to be opening up a bit, and the process of buying and selling homes might look a little different than it did pre-coronavirus. It’s probably going to be a while before anyone feels completely comfortable inviting strangers to come in and out of their homes. Thankfully, technology today makes it possible to give potential buyers a better look at a home from a safe distance, eliminating physical showings until they are absolutely necessary.

A video tour won’t always live up to the traditional showing experience, but it can decrease the number of people who aren’t serious about buying at the present time. Everyone is adapting to be respectful, and open house etiquette is adapting too! Here we provide some helpful tips on proper open house etiquette, both in general and in a post-pandemic world.

Easy Open House Etiquette Tips Post-Pandemic

We’ll start with some open-house precautions that many sellers put into place and then move into more general open house etiquette tips meant for buyers.

Open House Precautions

Here are a few precautions for sellers and agents to make an open house run smoothly and safely. 

  • Leave all the lights on in the house for the entire showing. That way, buyers and agents don’t have to touch light switches. In addition, this saves everyone from having to sanitize these areas.
  • Offer booties at the door so that all visitors can cover their shoes and keep the walkways clear and clean.
  • Set up cleaning stations in common areas. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout the house, and keep soap and paper towels on the counter next to sinks. 
  • Keep cleaning wipes and disinfectant cleaners handy so that common surfaces can be wiped down between each showing or buyer. Wipe down doorknobs, cabinet handles, faucet handles, and countertops, and any other areas that you believe visitors might have touched. 
  • Encourage all attendees of an open house to wait to enter a room until other people have left. There should be plenty of areas left to explore in the meantime or consider having staggered visiting so that only one family is in the house at a time.

Do’s & Don’ts For Open House Etiquette

Now that we’ve established precautions let’s get into some basic open house etiquette for potential buyers.

Let The Listing Agent Know If You’re Working With Another Agent

As a buyer, it’s good etiquette to let the agent hosting the open house know if you’re working with someone else. Most realtors will ask you this outright, but it’s a good rule of thumb to have your agent’s business card in hand to pass on to the hosting agent. 

Be Respectful 

Open house etiquette ultimately boils down to respect. Buyers should respect the home and treat it the way they would want their home to be treated. You wouldn’t want people going through your personal items, so keep the seller’s privacy in mind. 

Avoid going through medicine cabinets or nightstands or other furniture items that don’t pertain to the house.

It’s important to remember that open houses put the seller in a vulnerable position, so take care when touring the home. Sellers are motivated and want their homes to sell, but their personal possessions should still be respected.

Leave Your Shoes At The Door

We mentioned booties earlier to go over the top of shoes, but it might be good to remove your shoes altogether. It’s a simple courtesy that could go a long way. After all, this could be your potential home, and you want the floors and carpet to be in pristine condition. When in doubt, slip the shoes off at the door.

Don’t Go To The Bathroom

Another tricky situation that comes up in open houses is whether it’s polite to use the bathroom or not. As a rule of thumb, it’s better not to go, but the situation isn’t always so black and white.

It’s hard to set rigid guidelines because sellers don’t want to isolate potential buyers or be insensitive to basic human needs. However, as a buyer, try to go before or after and only ask if it’s a real emergency.

Leave The Inspection Process To The Pros

Though your parents, friends, and random family members have great intentions as they accompany you to the open house, make sure that the role of “home inspector” is left to the professionals.

Though some flaws might be obvious, don’t make any hard and fast decisions until a licensed and insurance inspection company has taken a look. Of course, most buyers mean no disrespect, but there is a checks and balances system in real estate so that a buyer can make a safe and informed decision before buying. 

Check Closets

While general snooping around should be avoided, you should definitely check the closets. Open up the doors in the house is entirely acceptable when it comes to open house etiquette. 

Sometimes homes have hidden walk-in closets or small closets where you expect a large one. Storage space is an essential factor, so feel free to open those doors to see what’s behind them. 

Schedule A Private Showing

It’s important to remember that an open house is different than a private showing. Open houses are to help you add a home to your list of potential buys. Can you envision yourself living there? Do you like the quick walkthrough of the home? 

If you can, and you do, then it’s time to schedule a private showing where you can get a closer look at the home and get more information from the agent. A private showing is where you can look a little closer and scrutinize the details, while an open house is to help you get a better sense of what you’re looking for.

Looking For A House in Billings, MT or Surrounding Areas?

If you’re looking for a house in Billings, MT, and are curious about who is still holding open houses, get in touch with us today! All the experts at 41 Realty Group would be happy to help you find your dream home, plus give you the low-down on how the seller feels about holding an open house. We’ll answer your questions, establish your wish list, and give you an idea of how the market is looking right now. So call us today at (406) 969-4141 or contact us online.