5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

Everyone wants to time their home purchase “just right.” Ideally, the picture-perfect “buyer’s market”; plenty of well-­‐priced listings, low-interest rates, and a slow-moving real estate market where the buyer has plenty of -me to decide on an offer. The reality is that the current market is a fast-paced environment where the best homes move quickly, and serious homebuyers need to be prepared to act when they find the right home.

Fortunately, starting your home search the right way is easy by following these simple tips:

  1. Find a Lender and Get Pre-­‐Approved – Know what you can afford before you start your search. By getting a pre-­‐approval letter, you demonstrate to sellers that you are serious when you write your offer, and it proves you can afford the home.
  2. Research Neighborhoods – Each community will have its own personality and advantages; before you spend time looking at homes, choose the right area for your lifestyle and family needs.
  3. Pick the Right Home Style – Learn about the various home styles available in your community. Do you want a single story? Large yard? Do you like older homes or historic-­‐ style properties?
  4. Make a List of Must-Have and Like-­‐to-­‐Have – There is a difference! Make a list and be ready to compromise when appropriate by ranking the items.
  5. Take Notes – Often, a home buyer can see 6-7 homes in a single day; take notes and, if possible, take pictures so you can remember the things you like and don’t like about the homes you see once you get home.

In a fast-paced real estate market, spending some time preparing for your home search will

help you move quickly when you find the right home for you and your family.

7 Things That Can Go Wrong If You Hire The Wrong Real Estate Agent

Buying a home is the biggest investment you’ll likely ever make, and it has all sorts of implications for your personal and financial future. This is why it’s so important to work with the right agent.

Too many people don’t realize just how much can go wrong if they make the wrong hire. There are some very serious problems that can arise if you accidentally work with the wrong person to buy or sell a home. Here are some of them:

1. Not listening

A professional real estate agent (or any other professional for that matter) will take the time to listen and understand their client and the client’s needs. The wrong one, however, isn’t going to listen to what you have to say, and will instead focus on what they want for themselves.

This will set the precedent for the rest of the process and make any real estate transaction a miserable experience. An agent who doesn’t take the time to know your wants and needs will cause you stress, confusion and heartache.

2. Bad advice

If there’s one thing you need a competent agent for, it’s the advice they’re able to provide. A good agent will serve as your trusted advisor, guiding you through the myriad of decisions you’ll make when buying or selling a home.

A bad agent, however, will either give you advice that’s not based on any experience or research, or is just plain self-serving. This can cost you financially or prevent you from accomplishing your goals altogether.

3. Failed negotiations

Lots of people consider themselves good negotiators, but very few actually are. While negotiating might be just one part of real estate, it’s an important one. You need someone on your side who’s working in your best interests in a competent and effective way.

A bad agent will either negotiate in such a way that attainable deals fall through, or will simply negotiate in their own best-interests rather than the interest of their clients (you).

4. Lack of responsiveness

This may or may not be one of your pet-peeves, but unresponsiveness in something as complex as a real estate transaction can be an absolute nightmare for the person whose money, home, and future are on the line.

A great agent is available most any time you need them (within reason). The wrong one, however, will let your calls, messages, and emails go unanswered while you worry yourself sick about what’s happening (or not happening).

5. Missed opportunities

Real estate is a business that moves quickly, especially when the market is hot. Even when there’s high demand, there are still opportunities for buyers, and a good agent will know how to spot them and take advantage quickly.

The wrong agent will miss good opportunities because they’re unable to recognize them, will move too slowly and miss them, or just generally not care.

6. Legal pitfalls

Real estate is complex by nature, and legal questions arise on a frequent basis. Thankfully, good agents have the knowledge and resourcefulness to help you navigate them and can find solutions even if they’re not immediately apparent.

Hiring the wrong agent will mean that when the inevitable problems creep up during the transaction, they’ll either give you the wrong advice on what to do, or will simply look at you and shrug their shoulders.

7. The process won’t be enjoyable

There’s no rule that says a real estate transaction has to be unpleasant. Yes, it’s a lengthy process that has lots of implications. But if you take a step back and think about it, buying or selling a home is usually a positive thing—whether it’s an upgrade, a money-saving downgrade, or a general lifestyle change. You should work with someone who can at least make it a pleasant experience.

And that’s the thing about hiring the wrong agent. They’re all but guaranteed to make the process one that you won’t enjoy.

So choose your next real estate agent wisely; your happiness—and the height of your high five when it’s over—will likely depend on it.

4 Tips For Making a Competitive Offer

Most areas of the country are experiencing a brisk real estate market. Well priced homes are moving quickly and often sellers have multiple offers from which to choose. How can you make your offer stand out and put you in a better position to get the home? Fortunately there are a few things you can do to make your offer more attractive to sellers.

  1. Offer a Fair Price – When the market is moving quickly, this is not the time to throw out a low ball offer and hope they negotiate. Write an honest price based on market values.
  2. Have a Pre-­‐Approval – It may not be enough to simply offer a pre-­qualification letter. When issuing a pre-­‐approval the lender verifies your qualifications and an underwriter gives preliminary approval based on the actual home and a good appraisal.
  3. Flexible Timing – Not everything comes down to price. A seller who is relocation might be more interested in an offer which gives them extra time to move.
  4. Attractive Terms – Most offers include contingencies for items like appraisal, inspection, title, loan approval among others. Working with your lender and real estate agent, consider removing any contingencies you don’t need. If you plan to remodel extensively for instance, you might remove the home inspection contingency. This provides more confidence in your offer vs the competition.

The most important thing in a competitive real estate market is being prepared. Working with your lender and agent, you will understand your options and be able to write a solid offer quickly, putting you in the best position to have your offer accepted.

Have You Outgrown Your House?

Many homeowners are surprised when they suddenly realize that “perfect” home of just a few years ago no longer suits their needs. From an expanding family to the empty nest, it’s common for a home to no longer be the right fit. If you’re unsure if you’ve reached the point where a move is warranted, here are a few signs you’ve outgrown your home.

• More Kids than Rooms or More Rooms than Kids – Life changes and our homes must change also.
• Clutter or Lack of Storage – Do you need more closet or storage space? A home with more space could be the answer.
• Home Office – More and more companies are opting for telecommuting or home office workers, if your kitchen is your office, it might be time to look for a new home with extra room for a home office.
• Outdoor Entertaining – Home design trends over the last couple decades has seen a rise in outdoor living and entertaining areas. You might have simply outgrown your yard if you crave space for an outdoor living or dining area.
• Lifestyle – The square footage might be fine, but you would prefer a different floor-plan; more open, single story, more windows, etc.

Your reasons for moving will be as unique as you are, but these are just a few considerations which indicate you might have outgrown your current home. Make sure your home still meets your needs and wants, then you’ll be able to decide if it’s time to move.

3 Must-Do’s Before Listing Your House for Sale

 Before you list your home for sale, it’s time to do a little work around the house – to prepare and make sure your home is seen in the best possible light. These “must-do” items are about showing your home to buyers as one which is cared for and ready for them to add their own brand of home to the space. Taking a little time up front can mean thousands of dollars as buyers start writing their offers. 

3 Must-Do’s Before Listing Your House for Sale 

1. Declutter, Depersonalize and Clean – This is the time to take spring cleaning seriously, in any season. Clear out all unnecessary items from the home; closets, drawers, extra clothes, old unwanted furniture. Donate to charity, hire a dumpster or rent a storage space; buyers will look in every space and open all drawers and cabinets, make sure your home seems spacious. Spend some time to depersonalize by removing excessive pictures and hide heirlooms. Finally, deep clean every space top to bottom. 

2. Address Deferred Maintenance – Make small repairs or hire a handyman to take care of problems which could appear during the home inspection. Replace caulking, fix broken windows and screens, replace light bulbs and freshen up and clean grout; buyers want to see a home that is cared for with “good bones.” 

3. Go for Curb Appeal – Spend some time in the yard. Trim bushes and trees, clean and repair hardscape and make sure there is adequate lighting. Welcome your buyers with seasonal flowers or décor and place a fresh mat by the front door. 

Before you put that sign in the front yard, spend a little time and elbow grease to make sure you welcome your potential buyers with the best version of your home. 

5 Maintenance Skills All Homeowners Should Know

Maintenance Skills Homeowners Should Know
Maintenance Skills Homeowners Should Know

 Owning a home can be one of the most important parts of a satisfying lifestyle. The joy of coming home to someplace you can call your very own offers security and comfort. Yet owning a home comes with responsibilities as well; maintaining the home in proper condition is critical to avoid larger problems later. 

While some people are handier than others, here are 5 maintenance skills anyone can master. 

1. How to Turn off Your Gas and Water –If you smell gas or have a water leak, taking quick action to shut off the source to the home while you wait for a professional can save thousands of dollars, and even lives. 

2. Understanding How Electricity Is Fed to Your Home –Learn how to reset GFI outlets and popped breakers at the panel to avoid expensive house calls. 

3. How to Find a Wall Stud – Avoid drywall repair when hanging pictures or shelves. 

4. How to Change Your Air Filters – Keep your air fresh and your HVAC systems running efficiently. 

5. How to Address Simple Plumbing – From fixing a running toilet to recaulking the shower, simple plumbing related issues can save money in service calls and damage. 

A quick visit to the local big box home supply store or afternoon online watching repair videos can help any homeowner tackle a few simple do-it-yourself tasks around the house. Learning a few basic maintenance skills will ensure you and your loved ones are safe and you’ll help your home stay in top condition.