Monthly Archives: July 2016

10 (Preventable) Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make


Photo of small chalk board with message about home sweet homeBuying a home is a BIG deal—and an overwhelming process if you’re a first time home buyer.  We’ve helped many, many “rookie” buyers purchase their first home, and we’ve seen some very common mistakes that a lot from first time buyers that could’ve been easily avoided.

Not knowing your budget.

No online calculator is 100% accurate, so don’t ‘bank’ buying your home on an inaccurate budget number.  Consult a lender early in the process to find out if you are approved to buy a house, and what amount you are approved to borrow.  Once approved, ask your lender how long your approval is good for; after a certain amount of time, your approval becomes invalid.

Not understanding the numbers.

Buying your first home involves more than touring and making an offer on the property you love.  Before you start hunting for homes, learn all the mortgage numbers and deadlines you need to get approved for a mortgage.  Once you know how to get approved, make sure you know all the numbers that come with each property, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, and other home ownership costs.  Find a real estate agent that can give you information about all the numbers throughout the process.

Being unrealistic about what you can afford, or can offer.

Don’t expect the moon for nothing. Do your research, and ask your realtor to show you what your money can get in your local real estate market. Don’t assume you need to set your budget at the maximum amount that a lender will borrow you, and don’t assume that you will get everything just because want in a home. Prioritize your list of ‘must haves’ and decide what features you want most in your new home.

Not having a solid list of ‘must haves’ to work off.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for in your new home, how are you going to find it? Make a list of ‘must haves,’ and ‘must nots’ for your new home. Expect your list to change as you search for homes. It’s normal to tweak your list as you see features during your home tours that you want in your new home—or don’t want.  For more help, hire an experienced real estate agent that can help you determine what you need and want in your first home.

Getting stuck on parts of a home you can change.

Paint color, flooring, trees, plants, decking…even cabinet color can be changed to fit your tastes.  Unfortunately, too many first time home buyers get stuck on the small, inexpensive details of a home.  Instead, try to look at the ‘bones’ of a home: layout, yard size, mechanicals (electrical, plumbing, etc.), structure.

Taking on too much of a project.

Even the most experienced home buyer can get in over his or her head, leading to disappointments and unexpected costs that sour the home ownership process. Keeping a level head during the buying process is the key, and knowing what you can and can’t handle. Be realistic.  If you haven’t picked up a hammer recently—or ever—perhaps that fixer upper is not the property for you. Know your limitations and take on a property that fits your experience. If you don’t have a lot of experience with a screw gun, but still want to put your personal touch on a home, look for a property that has small projects you can manage.

Trusting your MAJOR purchase to a friend of a friend.

Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you’re going to likely make in your life.  As much as you love your friend, don’t just trust anyone to guide you through your home sale—especially when you’re a first time home buyer.  Use these tips to make sure you get an experienced realtor with the knowledge and home sales under their belt that can help guide you through the process, even if you have problems with home inspection and lender issues.

Foregoing the home inspection.

This is a mistake that can cost you thousands of dollars after you buy your first home. A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the foundation for cracks and leaks. If you do find issues, you have time to renegotiate the price with the owners. If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale. Home inspectors can not only give you insight into the quality of past repairs, but can also give you a list of repairs that need to be made in the future and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on when it needs to be replaced.

Jumping at the first property you see.

Although it feels like love at first sight, make sure you know your options and compare them to that property.  You may end up coming back—and buying—that property, but at least you know that you’ve explored all your options so you end up with a major case of buyer’s remorse.

Waiting too long

It’s easy to over analyze the process, and to let it delay your signature at the closing table.  If interest rates increase, waiting a few months (or even a few weeks) can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.  Know when the time is right to buy your first property, and act.  Start by contacting a real estate agent and lender to get the process started, and get in your first home.

6 BIG Tips That’ll Get Your Home Sold This Summer


human palms on all sides of a cut out house with summer setting sun coming through windowEvery real estate statistic points to the same trend: spring and summer are the hottest season for real estate.  In the Midwest, it’s clear to see why (just look at the temperatures!): the great weather is perfect for buyers looking to buy a home.  If you’re looking to take advantage of the hot summer market, here are the top tips that’ll get your home sold before the temperatures—and the real estate market—drops.

Give buyers a fantastic first impression

Your attempts at getting buyers should start before they even take one step inside your home.  Take advantage of your chance to bring buyers in with excellent curb appeal; we’ve given you a full checklist of curb appeal improvements you can make here.  In short, mow your lawn, weed your flowerbeds, trim your trees, and clean and repair your sidewalks and driveways.  This is your chance to make a good first impression that draws potential buyers in; don’t miss the opportunity!

Make repairs that could cut into your bottom line

If a potential buyer finds an issue during the home inspection, they can renegotiate the final selling price to accommodate the cost of repairs. The renegotiation can cut into your bottom line and lower the amount of money you make from your home sale. Replacing a broken window or repairing water damaged drywall can be the difference between a high price, quick sale and a dragged out process.

Unfortunately, not all repairs are so obvious, and that’s a key reason why you should consider a pre-listing home inspection can locate potential red flags before your home hits the market—and before a buyers’ home inspector finds them as well. A pre-listing home inspection puts you in control of choosing who makes the repairs and the cost. If a potential buyer’s home inspector finds the issue, they can require that you use their home repair professional which may cost you more in the long run.

Clean, clean, and clean some more

This is more than just wiping off counters.  Give your home a deep clean that would pass a white glove inspection.  Scrub your tubs.  Mop your floors.  Remove stains from your carpets.  Vacuum every floor and window treatment.  Clean your toilets.  Dust every surface.  Clean your windows.

The alternative, a dirty house, has two unwanted effects: 1) it can repel potential buyers; 2) anyone courageous enough to make an offer is going to write a low offer because of the condition of your home.  If you don’t have the time to deep clean your home, ask your real estate agent for the name of a good cleaning company that get the job done.

Cool them

This tip may seem small and insignificant: if you want to make your home feel like a cool oasis during the summer heat, make sure your air conditioner is working before you put your home on the market.  Also make sure that the AC is working quietly, as that can be a real turnoff for potential buyers.  If you don’t have AC, open your windows and set your ceiling fans to counterclockwise so cool air blows down on your buyers.

Get rid of “stuff”

If you want to make your rooms feel bigger, clear your home of clutter and personal effects.  If you have any knick knacks or baby gear that takes up floor space, pack it in your car and take it along with you.

Don’t leave your house empty. To the contrary, empty rooms do not give buyers a clear vision of the purpose and potential of each room. However, keep the clutter—personal effects, knick knacks, items on counters and tables, extra furniture—to a minimum. If you need to, rent a temporary storage unit to store excess items. Rooms with less look bigger, while cluttered rooms tend to look smaller. If your house isn’t very big to begin with, you need all the help you can to give buyers the illusion of space.

Know (realistically) what you’re going to get for your home

It’s one of the biggest errors that home sellers make: a high price tag.  It’s also a mistake that can keep your home on the market forever without an offer.  The first step to settling on a market price for your home is contacting a real estate agent. A real estate agent can give you their recommendation for a fair asking price, and list of expenses associated with your home sale. They can also answer any questions you may have about selling your home, and give you tips on preparing your home for the real estate market so you can get your home sold while the weather and market is hot.