Monthly Archives: October 2017

Home Buying Terms Every First Time Buyer Should Know

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Photo of small chalk board with message about home sweet homeNothing about buying a home is normal. It’s not like buying a purse or a TV. After all, buying a house is one of the largest purchases of your life. It’s also a process that’s full of foreign-sounding terms that make you feel like you’re in over your head.

One way you can stay on top of the home-buying process is to hire a good real estate agent to guide you. Another way is to do your research and know common home buying terms you’re sure to encounter as you search for and purchase your first home.

Buyer’s Agent

As straightforward as the home buying process can be (basic steps of buying a home here), there can be snags along the way (i.e. issue during home inspection, negotiation problems, etc.). That’s when it’s helpful to have a contracted agent that works for you. The good news is a buyer’s agent is typically free. In most cases, the buyer’s agent commission comes from the seller.

Pre-approval

Pre-approval is a vital part of the mortgage process, and can give you insight into how much home you can (or want to) afford. Once you have chosen your mortgage lender, they’ll inevitably ask for documents that prove you are able to pay for the home. Those documents typically include W-2’s, income taxes, bank statements, and these other documents. From those documents, your mortgage lender pre-approves you for a mortgage and gives you the maximum amount the institution is willing to lend.

Purchase Agreement

A purchase agreement, or offer, is the document submitted to the home seller that includes important information, such as the amount you are offering for the property, conditions of the sale, and proposed closing date.

Contingencies

Your offer should contain a proposed price and any contingencies, or conditions, of the sale. For example, a common contingency is a financing contingency which means your loan must go through for the sale to be final. Another common contingency is an inspection contingency where the house must pass a home inspection or both parties come to an agreement on how to handle an issue that arises during the home inspection. There are other contingencies that can be included in your offer; discuss your options with your real estate agent.

Earnest Money

This term describes funds that you put down on a property to show you are serious about the transaction. An earnest money sets your offer apart, and applies to the final sale at closing. For example, if you are purchasing a $300,000 home, you may put $10,000 down to show you are earnest about the property. At closing, that $10,000 is applied to the sale. To determine the amount of earnest money right for your sale, ask your real estate agent for their recommendation.

Condition Report

A condition report may seem like another document in a pile of paperwork, but a condition report is full of useful disclosures about a potential property. The Condition Report contains information about any current or past property issues. In the report, home sellers are required to include any problems they’ve dealt with and how they have fixed it.

Home Inspection

A home inspection is a going-over of your potential property, performed by a home inspector before closing day. After the home inspection, the home inspector provides a report of issues that need to be addressed or repairs that need to be made in the future. It is important to note that home inspectors can only find issues they can see, such as a roof in poor condition or water damage from a leaky pipe. If the home inspector finds any issues, your real estate agent can inform you of the options you have if you want to proceed forward with the sale.

Closing

Closing day is the day when all the paperwork is completed for the sale of the property. You may have to bring payments to the closing; ask your financial lender for the exact documents and fees you need to provide at closing. Once all the paperwork is completed, you get to receive the keys for your new home. You’re officially a homeowner.

7 Key Things to Do Before You List Your Home

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For Sale Sign Under Home Showing Selling PropertyThe decision to list your home is a very exciting time…and a very busy time. All you have to do is put a ‘for sale’ sign on the front lawn, right? Not quite. If you want a quick sale and a good price, there are a few tasks you need to take on to make your property someone else’s dream home.

Landscaping

Even during the coldest times of the year, landscaping around your house does wonders for the look of the house—and the impression made on potential buyers. Mowed lawn, weeded flower beds, pruned trees—everything you do makes a positive impression on potential buyers. Use this landscaping checklist to make sure your home looks well-kept and cared for, from the moment they drive up until the end of the showing.

Find out the value of your home

Deciding on the listing price of your home is not as simple as asking for the amount you owe on your property, or the amount you think it is worth. The worth of your home is determined by the selling prices of local homes that have recently sold. Because it’s important to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, your home value is set by other homes with comparable lot sizes and square footage.  To get this number before you put your home on the market, contact a real estate agent to set an appointment so you can get a full review of your property and honest evaluation of a fair sales price for your home.

Seal and repair the driveway and sidewalks

One of the first impressions your potential buyers make about your home happen when they pull in the driveway. If the driveway is cracked or disintegrating, your buyers are going to start making a mental list of costs they need to pay for once they are in the house. Often, the result is a lower offer (if they even make an offer on the property) that accounts for all the repairs they need to make to the driveway or sidewalks.

Pressure wash your home

A clean property is a home that looks its best; a thorough pressure wash of the siding or bricks can help your home look it’s best. After you pressure wash, cleaning the windows completes the look of a well-manicured, cared-for home.

Clear the clutter

Empty rooms can make it hard for a potential buyer to envision the purpose of every room. The opposite, a very full room, can have the reverse effect. Rooms full of furniture, pictures, and knick knacks can make it hard for potential buyers to imagine the home with their belongings in it. It can also make rooms look smaller. To make your room look its best, only leave necessary items and furniture in each room. Remove pictures from the walls and add a fresh coat of paint to make your home look ready for the next buyer.

Deep clean

Disgusting tub. Dirty kitchen sink. Stained carpet. A floor so dirty they can’t tell the quality. Don’t give your potential buyers a reason to want to leave your house (or make a lower offer to accommodate replacement costs). If you have pets, “de-pet” your house; deep clean the house to remove any pet dander or odors (even if you can’t smell them, others may be able to). Remember the old saying about  kitchens and bathrooms selling the home. Make sure that every surface and fixture in these areas is deep cleaned (a good local real estate agent can give you the name of a good cleaning service).

Fix any issues

If you want to avoid any surprises during home inspection, you can hire a home inspector to do a pre-listing inspection. The results, a list of issues with your home, can give you the opportunity to get those problems repaired at a price you choose (and by a vendor you choose). In addition to the list you get from the home inspector, make sure you replace light bulbs, make sure all your switches work, and check all your plumbing fixtures so your home is ready for the next buyer.