6 Tips for First-Time Home-Buyers

When people are faced with the unknown, they will often choose inaction.


Because inaction is the default–it’s inside your comfort zone to do what you’ve always done.

That’s why so many potential first-time home-buyers often bite on the first house in their price range or simply choose to continue renting. 

Here’s how you can handle the unknown of buying your first home.

1. Decide if buying is right for you

So often, people talk about renting as “throwing money away.”

Is it really?

You need a place to live, don’t you? So you pay money in exchange for a roof over your head.

Just because you’re not building equity with a rental like you would with your own property doesn’t mean the rental is a waste of money.

Think about it this way: it might be cheaper to grow your own food rather than buy groceries every week, but does that mean you’re “throwing money away” at the grocery store?

Does that mean you should buy a farm? 

Consider your long-term goals and ask yourself if owning a home fits with your personal, professional, and financial future.

And try out this excellent interactive “Rent Vs. Buy” calculator from the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/buy-rent-calculator.html

2. What you’re approved for is not necessarily what you can afford

If you’ve decided that home ownership is right for you, then getting pre-approved for a loan should be one of your first steps you take.

A mortgage loan originator will look at your financial situation and determine your buying power.

You might be pre-approved for, say,  a $350,000 mortgage, but does that mean you need to find a $350,000 home?

Absolutely not.

And not every loan originator will be created equal. They are an integral part of the home-buying process, so you should shop around for the best one the same way you would for your real estate agent.

Your agent and her brokerage may have a relationship with a loan originator, but do your due diligence and see if there are other options in the area.

3. Find a great agent

The agent who comes recommended by your aunt or your best friend may not be the best agent for you.

Your needs in an agent may be different from the people who recommend them. 

And the best agent may not be your friend. It’s a nice thought to help your real estate agent friend by giving him your business, but a lot of friendships have ended when money came into the equation. 

Working without an agent is an even more treacherous road to wander down.

An individual may sell their own home as a for sale by owner listing (FSBO) in an effort to save on the agent commission.

In some rare cases, these FSBO sellers may request that you purchase without an agent, just as a way to keep agents out of the transaction.

Not a good idea.

Find an agent you trust and who can serve as your expert on a potential neighborhood or a certain property type. 

4. Try to be objective

Of course you should have some sort of emotional attachment to the home you eventually purchase. However, there are a handful of factors that can emotionally sway your decisions.

For example, you might be in a pinch for time and need to move in fast on a purchase. Or maybe a certain property just hit the market, or there are other offers on the property.

Utilize your agent in these situations. They will be able to provide you with more objective information, such as recent purchase prices on comparable homes.

5. Consider the true cost of ownership

When considering the monthly costs of home ownership, there’s more to it than just insurance, taxes, and the loan.

Routine (and not so routine) maintenence can add up quicker than you think. And deferring maintenence costs a lot more than routine maintenence.

There’s no landlord or property manager to save you now: it’s all coming out of your wallet.

Set aside money every month for maintenence–not only for routine fixes, but for emergency stuff as well, so these extra costs don’t come at the wrong time.

Also, consider how much will your utilities cost. Find out if there is reliable internet and cell service in the home as well.

6. Don’t bank on funding your retirement

When you buy your home as a place to live, it’s best not to think of it as an investment.
It’s not important what your home is worth at this moment, all that matters is that you’re happy with it in this moment.

When it comes time to sell, all that will matter is how much it will be worth then.

And even if you take a loss on the sale, consider the years of use and happiness you got from the property.

Sign up for classes by visiting us at LarsonEd.com.

Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Rd. #12,

Naples, Florida




Breaking: Home Prices Hit 32-Week High

Good news: according to the National Home Price NSA Index, home prices have hit a 32-month high! Time to pop the bubbly, right? 

Maybe not. David Blitzer, the Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee, says that real estate professionals may need to curb their enthusiasm.

“New home construction is now close to a normal pace of about 1.2 million units annually,” he says. “Most housing rebounds following a recession only last for a year or so.”

Just like any other change in the market, you’re better off staying consistent rather than out-thinking yourself with (relatively) short-term market fluctuations.

Or, perhaps you can use this information as a motivation to push through the end of a tough month. It’s your choice. Like so many things in life, your results will be largely dependent on how you process the information you’re given.

Is this a negative or a positive? The call is yours.

Source: Inman.com

home prices on rise

Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Rd. #12

Naples, Florida 34105





Are we the best family-owned business in SWFL?


Gulfshore Business Magazine is doing their “Best of Business” issue, and we are once again nominated for Best Family-Owned Business.

If you still think we’re the best family-owned business in southwest Florida (or in the whole dang universe, for that matter), then click the link below and fill in “Larson Educational Services” at #20.

5 Tips for Health Insurance Client Retention–Part 1

Health insurance client retention

When too many of your clients are cancelling their health insurance policies, you start to feel the impact at all levels of your business—lost clients could increase administrative costs and you could also see issues with debt management if you’ve already budgeted certain commissions that are no longer coming in.

And acquiring new clients is not cheap.

Here are 5 tips to make sure you choose clients who will stick around:

1. Pre-Qualify

The road to client retention starts before your relationship with a client even begins. First, you want to discover if you and a particular prospect are a good fit for each other.

In all industries, the best salespeople ask the right questions. 

You may also benefit from a shift in thinking: rather than focusing on acquiring clients, think about it in terms of finding out if a prospect is a good business partner. Ask yourself, “Is she a good fit for the services I offer?”

You must be willing to say no to certain clients if you think you cannot provide them with the services they need. Or you may say no if you foresee this prospective client requires a larger investment of time than you can afford.

The same insurance product won’t fit every potential client. Determine their budget.

If, for example, you run into a prospect who qualifies for high subsidies, it will be important for them to know the value of supplemental products, though they may not have the budget for these voluntary products.

Work together with them to find the best potential options to fill in the gaps created by high-deductible ACA plans, for example.

2. Find Your Niche

You will need to project professionalism and trustability to potential clients. If they have any qualms whatsoever about your ability to serve their health insurance needs, assure them that you specialize in this field—you are the content expert. 

Oftentimes, you can put an apprehensive prospect’s worries to rest by letting them know what others in their situation are purchasing. Decisions of any kind are difficult, let alone when healthcare is involved.

Make the decision easier by providing them with a road map of previous clients’ experiences.

The language you use may sound like this:

“This is our most common package.”

“Many of our clients are happy with this package, and here’s why.”

“This is our most popular package.”

Again, you don’t want to sell them something they can’t afford—sure, you won’t be able to retain them as a client, but more importantly their needs won’t be met.

Click here to read part 2!

naples real estate school

Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Rd. #12,

Naples, Florida 34105



Is loyalty dead?

Is loyalty dead?

The Oakla–sorry–the LAS VEGAS Raiders, who have called Oakland home since their last relocation in 1995, are ditching one of the most fervent fan bases in the NFL and moving to the Sin City.

Some are calling the move soulless on the team’s part–a slap in the face of Raider Nation.

That may be true.

However, we at LarsonEd want to assure you, our fans, that we won’t be skipping town on you. We wouldn’t be the company we are if it weren’t for our students, so we want to say thank you for coming to us for your real estate and insurance educational needs.

We promise to continue reciprocating that loyalty right back to you.

Photo courtesy of Raiders Twitter.

Sign up for insurance and real estate classes in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, and online: https://www.larsoned.com/

Larson raiders

Photo courtesy of Raiders Twitter

#TBT to King Ricky the Merciful!

This #TBT goes back to 1951, during the reign of King Ricky the Merciful.

Elk River, Minnesota–the Larson family’s home town–was holding a contest to crown the king or queen baby of the area.

All over town, the local merchants posted pictures of babies in their shop windows–so many babies you would’ve there was a town-wide missing baby epidemic.

Once they’d surveyed the pictures, people then stuffed the ballot boxes inside the shops to vote for the best baby.

Of course Ricky Larson, barely one year old, put his hat into the ring with this classic picture.

And who could resist that toothless smile? Those jean coveralls? He even had his hands out front in ready position, like he was about to go work on the family farm.

“It was a great photo,” Rick says now. “Really compelling.”

The town of Elk River apparently agreed, as Ricky Larson won the “Stuff the Ballot Box” contest. (“That was kind of an ass-kicking,” he says.)

He was awarded a little four-inch trophy (long since lost to the ages) that declared him King Ricky of Elk River.

So the next time you have Rick teaching your class, don’t forget to call him by his true name: King Ricky.

About Larson Educational Services:

Utilizing 40 years of real estate training and professional education experience, Florida real estate school Larson Educational Services is the premier provider of Florida real estate licensing, exam preparation, post-licensing, CAM licensing, mortgage loan originator licensing, and continuing education in Southwest Florida. Classes are available in Fort Myers, Naples, Sarasota, and online.

Brad Larson

Larson Educational Services

13040 Livingston Road #12

Naples, Florida 34105