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Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

When it comes to buying your first home, the process can be a bit intimidating. Aside from getting your credit inline and pinpointing an area to focus on as you search for homes, there are other ways you should prepare for your first home buying experience.

Tips for Buying Your First Home

Here are a few tips to help you get started down the path of home buying success:

  • Understand How Much Home You Can Afford: There is more that goes into owning a home than simply a monthly mortgage payment. You’ll want to make sure you can easily cover everything from taxes and insurance to repairs. Try using a mortgage calculator to determine exactly how much home you can afford while still leaving enough money for savings and the rest of your household budget.
  • Connect with a Real Estate Agent: While it might be tempting to try it on your own, enlisting the services of a real estate agent is invaluable, whether it’s your first or fifteenth home purchase. Your real estate agent will be able to provide you insider information about neighborhoods and market trends. In addition to guiding you through the home buying process, they will also serve as your advocate and handle the negotiations and legal requirements along the way.
  • Do Your Homework: Before putting in an offer on your first home, check out the neighborhood thoroughly. Your DeSoto County realtor will be able to provide you with comps of other houses in the area that have sold, along with community stats like crime rates and household demographics. You might want to do a bit of research yourself too. Drive by the house at night and on the weekends to see what the neighborhood is really like. If you’re not familiar with the area, spend a weekend in a local hotel so you can experience the area first-hand.
  • Cover Your Basis: When putting in your offer, consult with your real estate agent. She will guide you through the process and point out potential issues and red flags that might need to be addressed. Together, you can work to develop an offer on your first home that is worthwhile for the seller, but will also protect you as the buyer, with contingencies that will allow you the ability to back out of the deal should something unexpected be discovered along the way.

My Commitment to Your First Home Purchase

As your Realtor, I am committed to being available to you and providing you with exceptional service throughout your real estate transaction with an unmatched level of sincerity and integrity. It’s my goal to earn your trust and build a relationship with you so that together we can achieve your goals and get you to the next chapter in your life.

I would love the opportunity to talk with you and answer any questions you may have about the purchasing process.  You can contact me here or just give me a call at 901-496-4565.

Ready to search for your new home?

Red Flags When Buying a Home

Before you put in an offer on a new home, there are a handful of red flags you’ll want to look for with your realtor. Bad neighborhoods aren’t always easy to spot, so do a bit of digging first. If you see any of these red flags, you should stop and ask some questions.

Home Buying Red Flags

Too Many Houses on the Market: Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with a few listed houses on the same street. However, if you see more than just a couple throughout the neighborhood, it might be wise to find out why so many homeowners are wanting to leave the neighborhood all at once.

An overwhelming number of houses that are up for sale in the same neighborhood at the same time could be a sign that the local market is on the downturn.

Empty Storefronts and Commercial Buildings: While you might not be interested in living in an area with a hopping night-life, you still want to be in an area that has a thriving and sustainable economy.

If you find the area has a high number of empty stores and commercial buildings, that is a sign that the area isn’t doing well financially. If the local homeowners can’t afford to go out and support the local businesses, then odds are they aren’t able to handle the upkeep of their houses either.

Low School Enrollment Numbers: Even if you don’t have a school age child, this is a statistic you’ll want to look at because it’s an indicator about the type of neighborhood you’re moving into.

School districts with a healthy enrollment, like those in DeSoto County, will have a steady enrollment rate and not a declining one. Declining numbers mean families aren’t buying in the area, which could make it hard for you to sell your home later or bring down the market value of the home you looking to purchase in the area.

No Parking….Anywhere: If you’re looking at a home with a one-car garage or garage-port, you’ll need to ensure there is still a place for your spouse or friends and family to park when they come over.

If the street has a high traffic volume, parking on the street could be a chore. Not to mention, it potentially puts the parked car in harm’s way. Make sure there are plenty of safe areas close to your house for parking.

Get Home Buying Help

If you’re ready to begin the search for a new home, contact me today. I’ll guide you through the entire process and will make sure you’re home choice doesn’t raise any red flags.

3 Rules That Can Make or Break a Home Sale

Ready to sell your house this spring or summer? While you might not think so, there is a lot more to it than simply putting a ‘for sale’ sign in your yard. Alas, times have changed and it’s just not that simply any more.

Here are three rules to follow that can make or break your home sale:

  1. Price It to Sell: Don’t come out of the gate with a crazy price or one that’s not inline with the market. Work with your realtor and settle on a price that makes sense — avoid going over asking price. Aim for market price or even a bit below. Starting out with a great price from the onset could make all the difference in how quickly your home sells.
  2. Crank Up Marketing: Don’t just expect the ‘Field of Dreams’ plan of action to work when it comes to selling a home. You need to do more than just put it out there to catch the attention of prospective buyers. Work with your realtor to use all the resources available — from social media and video tours to the more traditional open houses and home listings. If you want them to come, then you have to tell them you’re there!
  3. Set the Stage: While your home decor could very well be something right out of Better Homes and Gardens, you want to create an environment that appeals to prospective homebuyers. Invest in professional home staging. This process will create a feel that shows your home in the best light while creating a feeling and design that is most likely to appeal to more home buyers.

Ready to prepare your home and get it on the market for this year’s top selling season? Contact me today and let me guide you from listing to sale!

4 Maintenance Tasks for Home Sellers

Just because you’ve put your house on the market doesn’t mean you get to throw in the rake … even if you’ve already moved out. In order to keep your home looking appealing to potential buyers, you need to keep up with basic maintenance. 

Here are four maintenance tasks you want to stay on top of throughout the home selling process:

  • Yard and Walkways: Keep your curb appeal in top form by completing weekly yard maintenance, keep landscaping tidy, and clear all walkways and driveways. If you aren’t able to do this yourself, find a local yard service that can keep things looking prestige on your behalf.
  • Check Gutters and Maintain Roof: Neglecting gutters and roof issues can cause serious side effects. Keep gutters clean to prevent drainage and foundation issues and repair any roof damage.
  • Windows and Screens: Give your home that warm and inviting look by keeping your windows and screens clean. Windows that are covered in gunk are not inviting and might give prospective home buyers the idea that you’re hiding something inside.
  • Heating and AC: From hvac systems to chimneys, keep them clean and tidy. Have a repair crew come out and inspect, clean, and repair any damage before your home goes on the market. You want to ensure these items are in tip-top shape before prospective buyers come into your home.

And to help impress prospective buyers who might drive by to check out the neighborhood, keep your mailbox clutter free and consider installing light timers, both inside and outside, to give your home a warm and appealing glow of happiness.

Short Sale 101 for Buyers

Short Sale Homes

Whether you’re an investor or a prospective home buyer, you’ve probably heard the team “short sale” but just might not be that familiar with the process. Before you ask, no, short sale doesn’t mean the process will be faster or shorter.

To help you get your footing on the subject, let’s take a few minutes to get you up-to-speed on the term and what all the short sale process encompasses.

In a nutshell, a short sale means that a home is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage. Simply put, the seller will end up ‘short’ on paying back the lender; however, the lender has agreed to accept the lesser amount owed.

While not the norm, short sales aren’t totally uncommon or unheard of in today’s marketing. In fact, according to RealtyTrac, about 5 percent of all US single-family home and condo sales are short sales.

Typically a short sale will arise if the homeowners are experiencing financial issues that make it impossible for them to pay their mortgage. In order to avoid foreclosure, they are needing to sell their home; however, they are finding it difficult to sell their home at a price that would cover their current outstanding mortgage.

Buyer Benefits of a Short Sale Purchase

A short sale property can be a bargain for potential home buyers or investors, but it will require a bit of extra work and can take 90 to 120 days. If you’re looking at a short sale property, be prepared to jump through additional hoops. Because of the extra pressure and requirements, short sales aren’t typically recommended for first-time home buyers.

Why extra hoops and a longer timeframe? Lenders, while in agreement to the short sale process, will be covering the closing costs a home seller usually sells. As such, they will often counter with their own demands in an effort to raise their bottom line. Dealing with a lender can extend the overall process timeframe.

The Difference Between Foreclosure and Short Sale

People often confuse foreclosures with short sales, and while they share some similarities in that both typically happen to homeowners in distress, the process and consequences are very different.

One difference is that a foreclosure is typically a faster process as lenders are eager to recoup the costs they are currently incurring on the property via way of unpaid mortgage payments and house upkeep. For one, foreclosures typically happen very quickly, since lenders are eager to recoup the costs incurred by the unpaid mortgage.

Secondly, a foreclosure will negatively impact an individual’s credit score by appearing as derogatory markings on their credit report. Because of this, individuals with a foreclosure on their credit report will often find they are not likely to qualify for another mortgage for at least five years.

While selling a home as a short sale is hardly ideal, many experts argue it’s smarter than pursuing more drastic measures like foreclosing on a house.

Should I Buy a Foreclosure Home?

While foreclosures can also be bargains, buyers should know that a foreclosure also comes with a lot more risk than a short sale. One of the biggest risks is that foreclosures are often sold at auction at a courthouse, sight unseen. Buyers will inherit all liens and any issues tied to the property.

When done right, a short sale is a better option for both the buyer and the sell.

Wondering about selling your home via the short sale process or interested in touring a short sale property you’ve seen on the market? Contact me today!