Go ahead, make my … down payment!
So hello to my little … backsplash!
Yippee ki-yay … Mr. first-time home buyer!
Come with me if you want to live … in a nice house!
Sound familiar? It's perfectly understandable if buying or selling your home makes you feel like the star of your own action movie. Because, today's thrill-a-minute home-buying market has plenty of surprising parallels with the action flicks that many of us grew up loving in the 1980s.
Truth be told, we can actually draw home-buying lessons from some of the Reagan era's cinematic greats. So sit back, grab some cheap beer and overly buttered popcorn, and bust open your Trapper Keeper to take notes.
Plot: An unnamed man ("Rowdy" Roddy Piper) finds a pair of sunglasses that reveal the "real" world, which is populated by aliens subverting the human race through subliminal messaging.
What it's like: The inspection process. On the first walk-through, a house might look amazing -- but sometimes beauty is only skin-deep. Your inspector can uncover those ugly flaws with his metaphorical sunglasses.
Advice to heed:
- Don't flip out and start one of the longest fistfights in movie history. Show up to the inspection, and talk with the inspector.
- You're here to get a deal and chew bubble gum. And you're all out of bubble gum! Use what's wrong with the house as a bargaining chip for a lower price or to leverage a better deal -- like the sellers giving you a discount for needed repairs.
- Be prepared to walk away from homes that require tons of work or have serious structural flaws. For example, homes prone to flooding that haven't been fixed or properly updated can still have mold in the walls.
- Most things can be fixed with the proper budget. Just don't let your budget stretch to fix the home.
-- -- --
Plot: Hunted by an invisible alien looking for skull trophies, Dutch (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) must evade and outwit an intergalactic hunter.
What it's like: The underwriting process. The underwriter can turn up things you had no idea existed, and they can get your loan denied. The underwriter digs through your bills, unearthing and evaluating everything you've done in the past six months. You never see him. But when your loan comes back denied, you can almost certainly be sure it was this silent mortgage assassin.
Advice to heed: You can't actually cover yourself in thermal vision-blocking mud and lay spike traps for the underwriter. The only thing you can do is plan. That means:
- Getting your credit in good shape, and fixing all blemishes on your credit report.
- Not switching jobs or careers.
- Delaying the purchase of any big-ticket items.
- Keeping your debt-to-income ratio in good order.
-- -- --
'Death Wish I-V'
Plot: After a brutal attack on his family, mild-mannered architect Paul Kersey (played by Charles Bronson) goes on a vigilante killing spree over the course of five revenge fantasy movies.
What it's like: That internal screaming reaction that accompanies not securing a loan.
Advice to heed: You have a good job and make decent money. Why do bad things -- like being declined a mortgage, or having your family viciously attacked by psycho thugs -- happen to good people?
First up, don't go on a murder spree. Take a step back. If you were denied by a huge, national lender, try going to a smaller lender. It's more likely to have a loan officer who will see you through the steps. If there's something that's really in the way, the officer should be able to tell you what you need to do to secure a mortgage, even if that means waiting a bit longer than you would have liked. You may also consider hiring a mortgage broker for an additional fee.
And, hey, don't give up. Kersey kept on killing thugs and murderers for 20 years. You'll get that house eventually.
-- -- --
'Conan the Barbarian'
Plot: A barbarian from a distant land, Conan (Schwarzenegger) journeys to kill the wizard who slayed his family.
What it's like: Venturing into an unknown neighborhood.
Advice to heed:
Mongol general: Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.
Barbarians aren't big on learning the ways of the locals. But if you're a home buyer -- and you don't have a gigantic broadsword ( which cost $10,000!) to make the locals bend to your will -- you'll want to take a different approach.
- When you're attending an open house, eavesdrop on the other attendees to gain some insider info -- that's a tip we learned from our spokeswoman, Elizabeth Banks.
- Drive by the house during the morning, midafternoon, and night. You'll be able to see three main stages: your neighbors getting ready for work, the kids coming home from school, and what the neighborhood looks like at night. Aside from trying to spot criminal activity or sketchy people after sunset, you can also see if the neighbors like to socialize or keep to themselves.
- Check the quality of nearby schools. Even if you don't have kids, it matters because good schools increase property value.
- Keep an eye out for new construction nearby. Something like a quality supermarket could boost your property value, while a gas station at the end of the block could harm it.
- Do not crush the neighbors.
-- -- --
Plot: When terrorists strike during a business party on Christmas Eve, John McClane (played by Bruce Willis) must take them all out, with a bit of help from an LAPD officer via radio.
What it's like: Listening to your Realtor.
Advice to heed: Communication is key. Look, McClane is a true badass -- he killed 10 people during this movie, without wearing shoes and being in constant agony because of it. But even he needed some advice from Sgt. Al Powell (played Reginald VelJohnson), on the streets below. Powell shares McClane's frustrations with bumbling police chiefs and helps keep McClane from losing all hope. What a guy!
You're McClane. You're out there putting your life (finances) on the line, while Powell, your Realtor, guides you through the process.They bring expertise to the table -- everything from negotiating chops to turbocharged searching power. You're paying for your Realtor, so you should be using them and listening to them.
And hey, at least you get to wear shoes.