Monthly Archives: December 2015

5 New Year’s Resolutions That’ll Help You Buy a Home


small house on hand buying a homeIs your New Year’s resolution to buy a home next year? A condo, townhouse, or single family house that you can call home sweet home? If so, you may want to add a few more resolutions to your list—real estate resolutions that can make your home buying process smoother and less stressful. Even though the first step of the home search that comes to mind is contacting a realtor, your first resolution should be in motion well before you look for homes with your real estate agent.

I will prepare financially to buy a house.

There’s more to buying a house than saving money.   Obviously, saving up a good down payment is not going to hurt, but your lender is going to base your pre-approval on more than just your savings account balance. Lenders also look at factors such as financial history, employment, current and past debts, and credit score. If your credit score is low, you may not get approved or not be able to take advantage of the lowest mortgage rate. Once you know your finances are in order for buying a house, start compiling documents your lender needs: past tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, pay stubs, and any other paperwork specific to your financial situation.

I will find out my budget first.

dollar sign to get ready for buying a homeBefore you contact a realtor, before you start looking at houses, before you making a list of must haves for your new home, contact a lender to find out the amount of money you are approved to borrow. You can find a reputable lender by asking your realtor, family, and friends for suggestions, or research your options online (carefully). Once you have a list of potential lenders, vet your mortgage lenders by asking them these questions to determine what lender is right for you.

I will select the best realtor in my area.

You rely a lot on your realtor throughout the home buying process, so why wouldn’t you take the time to find a quality realtor? Look for a realtor who knows your area, has the experience and expertise you need, and comes highly recommended by past clients. You can read more about selecting the right real estate agent in our recent blog post.

I will know what I want.

Make a list of ‘must haves’ for your new property. Do you want a big backyard? Where do you want to live? Once you have a list, know that there is a high probability that items on your list may change, or take a higher priority over another item, as you search for homes. It’s okay to change as you learn what you want—and don’t want—in your future home.

To make sure you don’t get overwhelmed, factor in your limitations as you search for a home. If you haven’t picked up a hammer recently—or ever—perhaps a fixer upper is not the property for you. If you still want to put your personal touch on a home, look for a property that has small projects you can manage or a property that can be bought and remodeled within your budget (if you can get a loan or have funds to do so).

I will get a home inspection.

Your home purchase is most likely the biggest purchase of your life, so make sure your new home is sound. Hire a home inspector to do a thorough inspection of your purchase and look for red flags that could signal the home is a money pit. If you do find a problem with the home, don’t panic. Talk to your realtor about negotiating with the home owner on the price, or to have the present owner fix the problem. This is one New Year’s decision that can keep you from repeatedly investing in a money pit.

5 Tips for Keeping Sane When Selling Your Home


sell your homeWhether your home is on the market for a day or a year, selling your home is a process—at times, a taxing and draining process. From the uncertain length of time for the sale to the financial stress, selling your home can be a very trying time. But there is hope for homeowners ready to put their house on the market if you follow our tips for maintaining your sanity during this very trying—and exciting!—time.

Choose the right real estate agent

A good realtor is worth their weight in knowledge, profit and savings. That’s why it’s vital to choose the right realtor that can educate when needed, communicate with you on a regular basis, and knows their stuff. It sounds generic, we know, but the right realtor is an important part of the home selling process—along with a mortgage lender and home inspector, which we wrote about in a recent post.

So how do you choose the best? Read our article about how to select the right real estate agent. Look at their reviews on social media. Ask around. Check through local sales to see which real estate agents are selling properties. A good real estate agent has the experience and knowledge to see you through your sale, from the day you put your home on the market until the sale is finalized.

Get a pre-listing home inspection

If you want to minimize surprises while selling your home, a pre-listing home inspection is for you. A pre-listing home inspection is an inspection of your property by a licensed home inspector BEFORE you put your home up for sale. A pre-listing home inspection can locate potential red flags (even the not so obvious problems) before your home hits the market—and before a buyers’ home inspector finds them. This also gives you the opportunity to control who makes the repairs and the cost of repairs. If your home inspector finds an issue with your property during the pre-listing home inspection, you, as the home owner, can choose what professional and price you pay for repairs. If a potential buyer finds the issue, they can require that you use their home repair professional which may cost you more in the long run.

Develop a strategy for keeping your home ready for showings

Even if you ask your realtor for 24 hours notice before all showings, inevitable short-notice showings do come up occasionally. If you want to sell your house, it’s best not to turn away a potential buyer away, so it makes sense to come up with a plan. This may mean hiring a cleaning service to give your home a deep clean, and follow up appointments to keep your home clean for showings. If you have a lot of personal items that hide the size of your room or one of your home’s features, rent a storage unit so you don’t have to repeatedly remove and take items with you during showings.

Set a fair selling price from the start

A house priced too high is a house that is going to sit on the real estate market, resulting in price reductions that send all the wrong signals to potential buyers (“Is there something wrong with the house?” “Why has it sat on the market so long?”). If your home is priced too low, you’re not going to walk away with the top dollar you need, and no one likes to feel like they got ripped off. How do you determine that sweet spot, a fair sales price? Trust your real estate agent to do a market evaluation. The right price is determined by looking at purchase prices from comparable home sales in your area. For example, if you are selling a condo, find other condos for sale in your area. For more information on sales prices, read our blog post to guide you to the right sales price—the price that sells.

Stay focused on the goal

The process of selling your home can feel like a roller coaster; it’s vital for your sanity to keep your eyes on the goal. Educate yourself so you’re ready for the home buying and selling process, and don’t be afraid to take some time to relax during the process. Remember, there are some aspects of your home you can’t change (like location), but there are parts of your home you can ready for the market, such as cleanliness, condition and curb appeal. Do what you can to your home and choose the right professionals for your home selling process: an excellent mortgage lender, real estate agent and home inspector (we’ve given you tips on how to do so here). Keep your eyes on the goal; all of your due diligence is for a reason: so you can get a fair price for your home and move on.