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These past two weeks have been a mad hunt to find a property manager to rent our house for us. We live in London, our home is in California and our beloved tenants are moving out at the end of the month.

Finding the right property manager has actually been much more difficult than we expected: bad Yelp reviews, bad email communication, and bad vibes, in general, made us really weary about hiring anyone.

Earlier this week we found the perfect match (I hope). This manager actually lives on our street, has glowing reviews, and talked to me on the phone for 45 minutes to answer all of my questions. He is the most expensive option, but we plan to move back into this house when we leave London and it’s important to us that it’s cared for well.

Everything was going smoothly until he sent the contract. There was an extra $500 fee that we hadn’t discussed.

I was torn. Do I try and negotiate that fee, even though in all honesty, I really didn’t feel like it? I’m exhausted (hi, new baby), I had no other options lined up for potential managers, and I wanted to get this thing rented. But, an extra $500 fee? That’s not nothing.

In the end, it decided to give it a try. 2 very short emails later the $500 fee was reduced to $250.

A reminder for us all that it doesn’t hurt to ask. And sometimes all it takes is two very brief emails to save $250.

(Want to know how to negotiate nearly anything? Read it here).


ICYMI

It’s the best investment you’ll ever make. Actually, it’s probably not. Home buying advice comes with a lot of generalizations (“You’re throwing away money on rent”, or “your home is the best investment you’ll ever make”). And making a really big decision based on a generalization – and not your own situation – is pretty similar to following “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” as solid personal health advice. With such a big purchase, you might want to do a little more research. Here’s how you can start to answer that pressing question: “should I rent or buy?”

Can I get a do-over? Now that I’m an adult, there are so many things I wish I knew when I was younger: extracurriculars in high school don’t really matter, you need to wear your post-braces retainer nightly, and home inspections are not something to be taken lightly. Here are 8 things I wish I knew about home buying, plus 7 more from The Worth Project community. One of my favorites? “Be a squeaky wheel.”

The psychology of smart money decisions. Sometimes getting your money together involves using a little simple psychology. In my Cupcakes & Cashmere article this month, I’m laying out 5 research backed ways you can be smarter with your money.


Make Me Smart: smart-ish reads from around the internet

I don’t know how she does it. If you decide that you want to buy a house, it’s still not easy. I used to stare at people’s social media photos of “Sold” signs and have no idea how they were able to actually buy something. Here’s how three people made the big purchase.

Add this one to the rent v. buy discussion. Strip away the money conversation and there’s another side of homeownership to consider: it could be better for your mental health. While the financial benefits of owning a house aren’t really guaranteed anymore, it’s not always about the money. This study breaks down research about the benefits of buying a house, that extends beyond the bank.

From flop to a national obsession. If you are obsessed with HGTV and go to bed dreaming about that open plan kitchen or that tile backsplash, you’re not alone. The only two things I miss about cable are The Food Network and HGTV. I’m not sure why – I can’t cook and I’ve never remodeled anything. Here’s the answer to why: the story of how HGTV went from a small time cable network in 1994 to inspiring people all over the country to make misguided financial decisions because house flipping is easy (just to be clear: that’s sarcasm). This article was humorous and spot on (side note: did you know one of the Property Brothers was a magician – before someone stole his props and he had to file for bankruptcy). Will I stop binging HGTV? No. But I will stop wondering how people like this exist.

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