Shannon O'Brien

Freelance Writer and Real Estate Expert

Although her first love is real estate, and she has over a decade of residential listing and sales experience, Shannon O’Brien is a freelance real estate writer. Her hands-on experience with homebuyers and sellers gives her a unique perspective that many professional real estate writers lack. As a short-sale specialist, she has steered clients through the distressed property trenches and offers common-sense advice to homeowners in trouble. Upon her exodus from California almost 10 years ago, Shannon left not only the state, but her real estate career as well. Since then she has put her California State University creative writing degree to good use, publishing numerous real estate articles for, the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, and individual real estate agents’ websites in the U.S. and Canada.

New home construction is booming in Houston, Texas and other cities

Toward the end of each month, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development release residential construction activity statistics for the previous month. The statistics are broken down into several categories; the most heavily anticipated being the number of groundbreakings – which they refer to as “housing starts” – and the number of building permits issued. The latter is an indication of future new home construction. . . .

Read more about New Home Construction


There are three major red flags that homebuyers should watch out for when touring a home

Although there are many so-called “red flags” to look for when touring a home, let’s take a look at the top three that – if you see them – should make you reconsider submitting an offer without a contingency for further inspection. . . .

Read more about 3 Reasons NOT to Buy That House



The process of buying a home for the first time brings with it a lot of confusion. From how to finance the purchase to what happens at closing, it’s not something most of us do very often. One of the most important steps in the purchase process, if you won’t be paying cash for the home, is seeking out a lender and obtaining a loan preapproval letter. But how do you shop for a lender and a loan? . . .

Read more about How Avoid Overpaying for a Mortgage


Dual agency is common, but is it a good idea for homebuyers to use the seller

The National Association of Realtors® estimates that perhaps 40 percent of residential deals are being handled by a single agent. So, why do some homebuyers use the seller’s agent, and what are the ramifications? . . .

Read more about Using the Seller’s Agent

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There are pros and cons for homebuyers to consider before purchasing a vacation home

Whether you love tropical beachcombing or hitting the powder on a ski slope, if you find yourself vacationing in the same locale year after year, you may have considered purchasing a vacation home there. If not, perhaps you should. Like many things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to owning a second home, and like any investment, buying a vacation home requires taking stock of your finances and your plans for the future. . . .

Read more about The Pros and Cons of a Vacation Home


If you

May, June and July are the months most people move, according to KVUE TV in Austin, Texas. Since that time period is rapidly approaching, we think it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest problems people encounter with movers and give you some tips on how to avoid or deal with them. . . .

Read more about Disputes With Moving Companies


We chose three of the best small cities to raise a family by looking at schools, crime and home prices

Life changes when singles become couples, and it changes dramatically when the couple evolves into a family. Priorities change, habits adjust and, most of all, lifestyles morph. One of the biggest changes is location – where does a family live, when schools are a priority but convenience to work is still important? Crime rates become more of a consideration, as does housing affordability. To help you find the ideal small city to raise your family, . . .

Read more about The Best Small Cities to Raise a Family


Before signing on the dotted line, homebuyers should check zoning and tax history for their property and the surrounding area

Homes surrounded by open space are attractive to many homebuyers. For these people, you just can’t put a price on the seclusion and serenity such a location offers. Vacant land near a residential area, however, should raise a red flag. After all, if it’s vacant, it’s buildable. . . .

Read more about 2 Things Homebuyers Must Do

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Houston, Texas is one of the best cities for recent college grads

In just a few months, the Class of 2014 will be donning their mortarboards to take that long, decisive step to the commencement stage and then out into the world. Unfortunately, with double-digit unemployment for those aged 18 to 34, this isn’t a great time to start a career. In fact, this age range accounts for half of almost 11 million unemployed Americans. . . .

Read more about The Best Cities for Recent College Grads


Some lenders are using the Internet, including social media sites, to check on borrowers before approving a loan application

If you think the National Security Agency is the only group spying on folks, think again. In fact, if you’ll be applying for a mortgage loan in the next few years, you might want to think twice about what you share on social media. At one time, not too long ago, bank statements, tax returns and employment and salary verification letters were sufficient documentation for lenders. It appears that is no longer the case for some small lenders that are . . .

Read more about Lenders and Social Media