Use a Buyers Agent
It's important that you choose an experienced agent who is there for you. Your agent should be actively finding you potential homes, keeping you informed of the entire process, negotiating furiously on your behalf, and answering all of your questions with competence and speed.
First, find an agent who represents you and not the seller. This is beneficial during the negotiation process. If you are working with a buyer's agent, he or she is required not to tell the seller of your top choice. In addition, he or she is also focused on getting you the lowest asking price.
Also, when you use a buyer's agent, you will see more properties. Not only are they plugged into their Multiple Listing Service, but also they are actively finding homes that are listed as FSBO, or homes that sellers are thinking about listing.
Why You Should Not Make Any Major Credit Purchases
Don't go on a spending spree using credit if you are thinking about buying a home, or in the process of buying a new home. Your mortgage pre-approval is subject to a final evaluation of your financial situation.
Every $100 you pay per month on a credit payment could cost you about $10,000 in home eligibility. For example, a car payment of $300/month could mean that you qualify for $30,000 less in a mortgage.
Even if you have accumulated enough savings, you should consider not making any large purchases until after closing. The last thing you want is to know that you could have purchased a new home had you curbed the urge to spend.
The Smooth Move Checklist
Buying a home will probably rank as one of the biggest personal investments one can make. Being organized and in control will contribute significantly to getting the best home deal possible with the least amount of stress. It's important to anticipate the steps required to successfully achieve your housing goal and to build a plan of action that gets you there.
Before you can build a plan of action, take the time to lay the groundwork for your decision-making process.
First, ask yourself how much can you afford to pay for a home. If you're not sure on the price range, find a lender and get preapproved. Preapproval will let you know how much you can afford so that you can look for homes in your price range. Getting pre-approved helps you to alleviate some of the anxieties that come with home buying. You know exactly what you qualify for and at what rate, you know how large your monthly mortgage payments will be, and you know how much you will have for a down payment. Once you are pre-approved, you avoid the frustration of finding homes that you think are perfect, but are not in your price range.
Second, ask yourself where you want to live and what is the best location for you and/or your family. Things to consider:
convenience for all family members
proximity to work, school
crime rate of neighborhood
types of homes in neighborhood, for example condos, town homes, co-ops, newly constructed homes etc.
Hot, Normal, and Cold Markets
This is an extremely competitive market, one that is advantageous to the seller. Sometimes, homes will sell as soon as they are listed or even before homes are listed. Typically, during a hot market, multiple offers will be made on each home and more often than not, homes will sell for more than their asking price. It is even more crucial to be prepared and to be ready as a buyer when the market is hot. It can be easy to get caught up in the bid for a home, but if you are prepared (pre-approved, solid in price range, realistic about your needs), it is easier to remain focused on your housing needs and price range.
In a normal market, there is fairly a large number of homes available and an average number of buyers. This market does not necessarily favor the buyer or the seller. A seller may not have as many offers on their home, but he or she may not be desperate to sell either. Again, it is the buyer's responsibility to be prepared. During a normal market, the chances to negotiate are higher than in a hot market. As a buyer, you can expect to make offers at lower than the asking price and negotiate a price at least somewhat less than what the sellers are asking.
In a cold market, houses may be listed for more than a year and the prices of houses listed may drop considerably. This market is advantageous to the buyer. As a buyer, you have the time to make an offer that works to your best interest. It is not uncommon to low-ball and to find that sellers are accommodating to meet your needs. Keep in mind that even though this market is a great time for buyers, you do not want to lose your dream home by being unrealistic. Your goal is to get your dream home at the best possible price.
Finding the Right Seller
The best seller is one who is highly motivated. A highly motivated seller is more likely to sell for less than his or her house is worth. And it matters that you find out why; learning the reason why can help you get the price you want and help the seller get what they want: a timely sale.
When given the opportunity to meet with sellers, ask them why they are selling. The reasons could be anything from job change to a new location to financial problems. If you can solve their problem, whether it is cash related or time related, do so. For example, if the sellers are highly motivated because they need to move quickly, give them a fast sale - and a lower price. If you can make an offer, even a low one, that gives them cash in a short time, they are more likely to accept.
There are also some sellers that you should avoid. Not every seller is as genuinely motivated as they make themselves to be. Some possible hints:
• They stall on having the home appraised or inspected
• Is unable to clear up liens against their property
• Does not own 100% of their property
• They push back the move-out date
• Does not have a replacement property or back up plan etc. etc. etc.
It is impossible to find the perfect seller. But it is possible to find out which sellers are legit, and which ones aren't.
Getting a Legitimate Lender and Getting Pre-Approved
It used to be that buyers could go house shopping and when they have found their dream home, then they go to get pre-approved. However, in today's market, that has proven to be one of the least effective methods in landing the dream home.
Most lenders can pre-qualify you for a mortgage over the phone. Based on general questions about your income, debt, assets, and credit history, lenders can estimate how much mortgage you qualify for. However, being pre-qualified and pre-approved are different things. Pre-approval means that you have applied for a mortgage; you have filled out the mortgage application, received your credit report, and verified your employment, assets, etc. When you are pre-approved, you know exactly what the maximum loan amount will be.
A pre-qualified letter is not verified and in essence, does not count for much if you are competing with other buyers who are pre-approved. When you are pre-approved, you and the seller know exactly how much house you can afford. It gives you credibility as an interested buyer and lets the seller know immediately that you will qualify for a loan to buy their property.
In addition to being pre-approved, it's important to be pre-approved with a legitimate lender. Legitimate lenders include: banks, mortgage bankers, credit unions, savings and loan associations, mortgage brokers, and online lenders.
Some lenders to avoid: those who lose a form or misplace a file, those who gather information from you in an unorganized manner, those who are not informed about interest rates, points or costs, and those who cannot provide you with the right information.
Importance of Inspection
As a buyer, you are entitled to know exactly what you are getting. Don't take for granted what you see and what the seller or the listing agent tells you. A professional home inspection is something you MUST do, whether you are buying an existing home or a new one. An inspection is an opportunity to have an expert look closely at the property you are considering purchasing and getting both an oral and written opinion as to its condition.
Beforehand, make sure the report will be done by a professional organization, such as a local trade organization or a national trade organization such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspection). Not only should you never skip an inspection, but also you should go along with the inspector during inspection. This gives you a chance to ask questions about the property and get answers that are not biased. In addition, the oral comments are typically more revealing and detailed than what you will find on the written report. Once the inspection is complete, review the inspection report carefully.
You have to demand an inspection when you present your offer. It must be written in as a contingency; if you do not approve the inspection report, then you don't buy. Most real estate contracts automatically provide an inspection contingency.
Avoiding Financial Stress
By asking the right questions, and knowing exactly what your needs are, you can find the right loan for you. There are certain approaches that you can take while mortgage shopping that can cost or save you money.
It is still true that the better qualifications you have, the lower your interest rate will be. However, there are mortgages available for almost everyone; it's the interest rates or the down payments that vary.
Before speaking with a lender, know what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to. Then when you discuss mortgage pre-approval with your lender, it is easier for you to determine the monthly amount and what value of home the monthly amount translates into. Do not put yourself in the position where you will be paying more each month than you intended simply because the "dream" house requires it.
Do your research on the types of mortgages available to you and find the one that best suits your needs. There are a number of considerations to be made in terms of finding the best mortgage for each individual:
What type of market are you in? Are the interest rates falling or rising?
Do you want a fixed mortgage rate, where you will always know what your payment is going to be?
What are your long-term goals? Do you intend to resell the property? Do you only need the mortgage for a short time?
Use a Buyers Agent
No Major Credit Purchases
Plan of Action
Types of Markets
Finding the Right Seller
Importance of Inspection
Avoiding Financial Stress
The Smooth Move Checklist
Take our moving advice and utilize this checklist before and after you have moved. Print this page and carry it with you before and several days after the move. Take advantage of our moving tips and moving advice. Moving tips that may seem obvious can be easily over looked.
• Tag your Items: For your garage sale, tag all items and be prepared to wheel and deal. Garage sale gurus love to haggle.
• Pack Heavy - Pack Light: Pack heavy items in small boxes and lighter items in larger boxes.
• Know how to Pack Plates and Records
Plates and record albums should be packed on end vertically, rather than placed flat and stacked.
• Protect Your Memories: If it's irreplaceable, take it with you in the car (you don't want regrets later). But if you do decide to pack framed photos or art, place sheets or blankets between them for added protection.
• Give the Kids an Exercise: Have children write their names and new address on the cartons from their rooms so they can become familiar with their new street and town.
• Keep the Phone Book: Take your current phone book with you. You may need to make calls to residents or businesses back in your former hometown.
• Remember the Bare Necessities: Toilet paper, telephone, toiletries, snacks, coffee (and pot), soap, flashlight, screwdriver, pliers, can opener, paper plates, cups, utensils, a couple of pans, and paper towels are some of the essentials you may need upon arrival at your new home. Pack a box with these types of items and ask your van foreman to load it last so that it will be unloaded first.
• Get the Bed Ready: Designate one drawer of a dresser for sheets and towels so that you won't have to rummage through boxes for these essentials the first night in your new home.
• Take Notes: Make a note of your shipment registration number and keep it with you in case you need to call your mover with questions about your shipment.
• Give out your Number: Before the van foreman leaves for your destination residence, give him a phone number where you can be reached. It is also a good idea to provide him with an alternate contact in case you can't be reached.
• Don't forget about the Fridge: After you've thoroughly cleaned and dried the inside of your refrigerator, put a handful of fresh coffee, baking soda or charcoal in a sock or nylon stocking and place it inside to keep the interior smelling fresh.
• Unscrew Bulbs: Remove bulbs before packing your lamps.
• Help your Pet Relax: Keep your pet calm and away from all the activity on moving day by arranging for a friend to watch him at their house.
• Be Nice to Your Plants: When moving plants to your new residence via your car, try not to let foliage rest against the windows, as the leaves will scorch.
• Take a Break from the Computer: Upon arrival at your new home, let your computer "acclimate" itself to room temperature before plugging it in.
• Enjoy the Help: Leave the rest to the professionals, sit back and relax, and look forward to the new opportunities, friends and experiences that are part of any move.
Making a Good First Impression
If you want buyers to be interested in your home, you need to show it in its best light. A good first impression can influence a buyer into making an offer; it influences a buyer emotionally and visually. In addition, what the buyer first sees is what they think of when they consider the asking price.
A bad first impression can dissuade a potential buyer. Don't show your property until it's all fixed up. You do not want to give buyers the chance to use the negative first impression they have as means of negotiation.
Ask around for the opinions others have of your home. Real estate agents who see houses everyday can give solid advice on what needs to be done. Consider what architects or landscape designers have to say. What you need are objective opinions, and it's sometimes hard to separate the personal and emotional ties you have for the home from the property itself.
Typically, there are some general fix ups that need to be done both outside and on the inside. As a seller, you should consider the following:
Landscaping - Has the front yard been maintained? Are areas of the house visible to the street in good condition?
Cleaning or Redoing the driveway - Is your driveway cluttered with toys, tools, trash etc.?
Painting - Does both the exterior and the interior look like they have been well taken care of?
Carpeting - Does the carpet have stains? Or does the carpet look old and dirty?
Know Why You are Selling
If you know exactly why you are selling, then it is easier for you to set the right plan of action to get what it is that you want.
If you are a seller who needs to close a sale as quickly as possible, then you should know that getting the highest price possible is not one of your priorities. It does not mean that you won't or cannot get the highest price, but it means that the price is not the deciding factor. A buyer who can give you a quick closing time will appeal much more to you than a buyer who can offer you more money but the negotiation and closing time drag on.
It's always good to know how low you will go, in terms of selling price. This will help to eliminate some of the offers that you find simply offensive or ridiculous. Even though you should consider all offers seriously and take into consideration the terms of each offer, sometimes, if you know the bottom line and are strict about it, you can save yourself time.
Once you know what your limits and reasons are, discuss them with your agent so that they can help you set your goals realistically. If you decide to list your home on your own, make sure you do research on the current market, and you get the proper advice you need in terms of legal issues, etc. The key is to be realistic and to know what your goals are so that they can be met.
Setting the Price
The price is the first thing buyers notice about your property. If you set your price too high, then the chance of alienating buyers is higher. You want your house to be taken seriously, and the asking price reflects how serious you are about selling your home.
Several factors will contribute to your final decision. First, you should compare your house to others that are in the market. If you use an agent, he/she will provide you with a CMA. The CMA will reflect the following:
houses in your price range and area sold within the last half-year
asking and selling prices of houses
current inventory of houses on the market
features of each house on the market
From the CMA, you will find out the difference between the asking price and selling price for all homes sold, the condition of the market, and other houses comparable to yours.
Also, try to find out what types of houses are selling and see if it applies to your area. Buyers follow trends, and these trends can help you set your price.
Always be realistic. And understand and set your price to reflect the current market situation.
Plan of Action
Finding the Right Agent
Not all agents work the same way. The most important attribute of an agent is that he/she is well connected to the real estate industry. He/she should know the market and provide information on past sales, current listings, his or her marketing plan, and at least 4 solid references. In addition, you also want to look for an agent that is honest, assertive, and one that best understands your needs.
Try to go with a local agent. They can better serve your needs; they are familiar with what the local market condition is, the local prices are, and what's hot or not in your community.
When reading an offer, keep in mind that you are out to get the best price AND the best terms for you. If you focus solely on the price, you may overlook terms that could be favorable to you as a buyer.
Some terms that may work in your favor:
When reading through offers, remember to look at the whole package. Take the time that you need to assess what is being offered and if it meets your needs.
Insist on a Home Inspection
A professional home inspection protects both you and the buyer. It allows both you and the buyer the opportunity to learn about the property's defects.
A home inspection usually covers the following:
As a seller, the home inspection reports protect you because it establishes the actual condition of the property at the time of sale.
Getting the Highest Price in the Shortest Time
In order to get the highest price in the shortest time, you need to know how to market your home. The better you market your home, the more offers you will get. And the more offers you get, the more choices you have to get the price and terms you want.
The most important factor of marketing your home is pricing it right. Your price should be adjusted to reflect the market, and the property's worth. The key is to get many people checking out your property at a fair price instead of having no buyers because your price is set too high.
Another important factor is the condition of your home. Make sure that your home looks ready to be sold. Fix any defects (peeling or faded paint, cracks, stains, etc.) Condition alone can sometimes prompt fast buying decisions. Not only should you fix any defects, but consider upgrading your home by making major repairs and cosmetic improvements before selling. A nice looking home triggers the emotional response that can lead to a financial response.
Learn how to negotiate the best terms for all parties involved. Terms are another factor which may be adjusted to attract buyers. If you insist on getting your asking price, think of what you can offer to the buyers, for example, improvements you've made, or even offering seller financing at a lower than market interest rate on a portion of the sale price. Convince them why they should be paying the price you have set.
Lastly, get the buzz out about your home. List your house with a hot agent that ensures your house is listed on the MLS and on the Internet. On your own, get the word out. It should be visible to passersby that your house if for sale, whether it be signs, local advertisements or you telling friends, family, and acquaintances.
MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
KNOW WHY YOU ARE SELLING
SETTING THE PRICE
PLAN OF ACTION
FINDING THE RIGHT AGENT
INSIST ON A HOME INSPECTION
Getting the Highest Price
in the Shortest Time
Your House's Value
YOUR HOME'S VALUE
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