Category Archives: new home search

Finding a new home can be a tricky process. RE Platinum knows where to search to find your next dream home.

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

Share

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.

Red Flags to Look for During a House Tour

Share

house tourWe see it: you’re captivated by the winding staircase or the open layout during the house tour. You love the big yard and the beautiful trees. But are you looking beyond the aesthetics as you tour the home? Do you know what red flags to look for during a house tour, so you don’t have to pay for the previous owners’ delayed maintenance or improper repairs? Undoubtedly, the location, layout and everything else on your ‘must have’ list is important, but are you looking at the whole property during your house tour? What lies behind those walls?

One way to spot, and deal with, red flags is to hire a real estate agent. A real estate agent can help you spot red flags during a house tour based on past experience. They’ve seen fixer uppers and damage at other properties and can help you find the most obvious signs during your initial tour:

Curled and cracked roof shingles. Do a visual inspection of the roof. If you see curled or cracked roof shingles, or missing shingles, take that as a red flag. Look for water damage inside the home, in case the deteriorating roof has allowed water in. While a damaged roof is a red flag, don’t panic. If you still are interested in the property, there are ways to deal with this red flag after the home inspection is completed.

Signs of water damage. Are there discolorations or stains on the walls or ceiling? Is the drywall bubbling or soft? Look for signs of water damage during the house tour, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen. Be aware, though, that water damage can be in any room and on the walls and ceilings. In extreme cases, a long-term leak can also lead to mold in the walls or attic, so have your home inspection check for any signs of mold in the drywall (as much as possible, anyway, without opening the walls).

Water in the basement. Most likely, you are not going to walk into a pool of water at the bottom of the basement stairs, but look for signs that water has been in the basement. Signs of water in the basement include staining, bubbling or soft drywall or a musty smell. If the previous owners do disclose a water problem in the basement, ask what was done to rectify the problem. Make sure the water was properly cleaned up, drywall was bleached or replaced and repairs were made (such as a sub pump installed) to prevent the water from coming in again.

Furnace age. The furnace may not be the most beautiful part of a house, but it is one of the most important parts of your home—and one of the most expensive appliances to replace. In addition to replacing the furnace, an impromptu breakdown can cause pipes to freeze. Ask what the age of the furnace is and what kind of fuel it uses.

Smell. Trust your nose. If you smell a musty smell or a strange odor, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Has there been water in the basement? Have the air ducts been cleaned? Is there a gas leak?

Electrical issues. Test the switches in the home. If switches don’t work, you have flickering lights, see burned or dangling wires, ask the home inspector to look into possible electrical issues.

Remember a real estate agent is not a home inspector, though they can help you be on the lookout for red flags during a house tour. If you are serious about the home, put an offer in on the property. When the offer is accepted, hire a home inspector to get an in depth examination of the property by a professional so you don’t get stuck with a “money pit” home (among other valid reasons for a home inspection). Your real estate agent can suggest home inspectors they have worked with in the past. Don’t panic if the home inspection hits a few snags, your real estate agent can walk you through your options. That’s why you have a real estate agent: to guide you through the house tour, explore options that can take care of those red flags and get you into the right home.

Why should I use a realtor?

Share

sold homeIf you think realtors haven’t heard this question before, you’re wrong. Most realtors have faced this question throughout their career, and have some very good answers for the question, “why should I use a realtor?” Their answer isn’t short, though, because there are many, very good reasons to use a realtor for home selling and buying:

Assistance in navigating through the home selling and buying process. From defining terms like foreclosure and short sale, to identifying home repairs that can sell your home, to assistance with pricing and negotiating, to finding a solution that fits your needs after a bad home inspection report, a realtor’s first priority is to assist you through the home selling and buying process.

Local connections when you need professionals beyond a realtor. Lending services, home inspections, repairs, deep cleans—the home selling and buying process is full of situations where you need professionals beyond your realtor. An experienced realtor has connections in your community to experienced and competent home inspectors, handymen, cleaning services, insurance agents, lenders—everyone you need as you navigate through the home selling and buying process.

Objectivity when you need it. It’s hard when you are so emotionally involved, and close, to the home selling or buying process, or the person going through it. A realtor is unbiased, and can give you advice on challenges, pricing and anything else you encounter during the home selling or buying process.

Expertise when your home selling or buying process goes awry. A bad home inspection. Home negotiations that take a turn for the worst. Complicated communications with a bank selling a foreclosure. Sometimes selling your home or buying a house can seem like a race full or hurdles. A realtor can help you through the challenges that may arise during home selling or buying, so you can buy your new home or sell your property.

Experience to help you save money, price your property or save money to make money. Sounds like a mouthful, doesn’t it? An experienced realtor has seen it all: what home prices convert into quick home sales, how much money you should invest to sell your home (so you don’t overdo it), what you should and shouldn’t do to your home.

Remember, you realtor is looking out for your best interests. Your goals are their goals. They’re working for you, and can use all the experience from the home selling and buying processes they’ve been involved with to make your process successful. So what are you waiting for? Contact a realtor so you can get your home selling or buying process started, and achieve that happy ending.

Home Buying Checklist for Your Home Search

Share

new home Many a buyer has gone into a home search feeling ready to find a new home. After a few house tours into the home search, however, an overwhelming reality sets in: a home search is more than just house tours and writing up a contract. A new home search is also a bit of a process of finding out what kind of home fits you, so you can approach those house tours knowing what you need, and want, in a new home (there is a difference). Once you understand that your new home search is a process, take the proper steps to prepare for the reality of searching for a new home—without feeling overwhelmed:

  • Make a ‘must have’ list—and be prepared for it to change. Figuring out what you want before you buy is essential to property ownership success. Do you want a big backyard? Where do you want to live? Is the location of the new home important? Do you want a big yard with a lot of maintenance? 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 go through a few house tours. It’s okay to change as you learn what you want—and don’t want—in your new home. You may not get everything in your new home.
  • Know how handy you are. If you haven’t picked up a hammer recently—or ever—perhaps that fixer upper is not the new home for you. Know your limitations and take on a new home 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, manageable projects.
  • Prepare yourself for the unexpected. The buying and owning process is full of unpredictable twists and turns. Learn how to handle one of them, a bad home inspection, in our recent post. Once the home inspection is settled, be ready for repairs and expenses incurred in a new home. Put an account aside for unforeseen problems, and budget accordingly.
  • Find out how much you can afford. The feeling of being overwhelmed does not just come from buying that fixer upper you can’t fix.  Buyers commonly jump in over their head financially by not accounting for all the expenses—utilities, property taxes, etc.—that come with home ownership. Meet with your lender and find out how much of a monthly payment you can afford, then take those numbers home and use them to set up house tours at properties you can afford.

Don’t be afraid to ask your realtor for help throughout your new home search. Realtors are there for more than just writing up the contract and schedule house tours. They are also your guide as you navigate through the new home search, without getting overwhelmed.

How to Know When That Property is Your Valentine…the ‘One’

Share

brown houseCan a real estate property be a match made in heaven? We think so, especially after seeing the eyes light up of numerous Wisconsin home buyers throughout Dodge and Jefferson counties. And while everyone’s process is different, with some buyers banking their decision on feeling and others on logic, there are several common factors that their ideal real estate property met. So how do you know when that house, condo or town home is the one?

  1. It matches your top priorities on your ‘must have’ list. Know what you want. Three bedrooms? Two bedrooms? A big yard? A condo with no maintenance? The perfect property has the ‘must haves’ that top your list. Creating that list should be one of the first things you do to kick off your home search, along with these other two important steps.
  2. The price is right. Contact a lender to find out what your financial parameters are for your home search. Know how much you can afford, and how much “wiggle room” you have—or if you don’t have any. The perfect property is one you can afford now, and can continue to make payments on in the future.
  3. Location, location, location. Sounds cliché, doesn’t it? Your dream home is in an ideal commuting location, near your family, in the heart of all the action in town or in the country where you want to be.
  4. The home inspection backs it up. You don’t have to walk away from a property because of issues that come up during the home inspection (find out more about your options after a bad home inspection here). We would highly recommend that you get a home inspection, so you know what you’re getting. Even if the property looks perfect, a home inspector can discover structural or foundation issues that are not obviously visible.

Your ideal property may meet other must haves on your personalized ‘must have’ list: income potential, a fixer upper, move-in ready, handicap accessible. Contact a realtor with your list, and get educated. Finding the ‘one’—that dream home—is a process, and one that we can guide you through until you find your dream home.

How to Take Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

Share

brown houseReady to jump into the Wisconsin real estate market and purchase a property that can be all yours? With mortgage rates sitting extremely low, now is the time to start searching for homes. Where do you start? Here’s a few simple steps that can help you find your dream home:

  1. The lender. To set realistic parameters for your house search, you need to know how much you can afford and the amount a lender will give you—and if they will borrow you money. You don’t want to waste time looking at homes that you can’t afford.  Pick up the phone and contact a mortgage broker or your bank or credit union. Ask them what documents they need during the approval process, and the length of the approval process. Once they have documents like your W-2’s and tax returns, your mortgage lender will factor your income and credit rating into deciding if, and how much, they will give you. If the lender approves your loan, they will give you the maximum amount you are approved for, and the amount of your monthly payment.  Once you have the numbers, choose the monthly payment that will realistically work for you—you don’t have to borrow the maximum amount. Remember to add in property taxes, homeowner’s association fees and mortgage insurance, if applicable.
  2. A property search checklist. Where do you want to live?  How many bedrooms do you want or need in your property? Do you want a large back yard? A condo with zero maintenance? Now is the time to write down your wants and needs. Once you’ve written everything down, pick out the must haves and wants—and be prepared to make changes. It’s not unusual for a buyer’s list of must haves to change as they look at properties.
  3. The realtor. Once you have the budget for your property search, contact a local, top realtor. Your realtor will want to know your budget, ideal location and areas you will look in and what you are looking for (your must haves).  Be realistic.  You may not get every must have in your property. As you search, prioritize what must haves you need or want the most. Give your realtor feedback that they can use to zero in on the property that will work for you.

Now is not the time for procrastination. Lower mortgage rates can save you thousands over the life of your mortgage, so the earlier you get the process rolling the sooner you have the keys—and the savings. Contact a lender, and educate yourself on important real estate terms you need during your home search: earnest money, foreclosures, short sales, home inspections. Have any questions? Contact one of the top realtors in Dodge and Jefferson County for more information.

5 Real Estate New Year’s Resolutions for your Home Search

Share
Looking for a home like this incredible ranch? Call us today.
Looking for a home like this incredible ranch? Call us today.

You’re ringing in the New Year with some life changing news: you’re about to buy your dream (or starter) home or sell your home! As excited as you are, don’t just jump in to the real estate market. Use one of these New Year’s resolution to ensure that your home search and sale are stress free and save you money (another fulfill more of your New Year’s resolutions!):

  1. I will find out what my budget is for my new house BEFORE I start my home search. Going shopping without a budget is a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment. Talk to your lender to find out how much you qualify for, then contact a real estate agent about your home search. There are also other steps you can take to ready yourself for your home search.
  2. I will make my house look like a million bucks. Don’t just put your house on the market. If you want to get top dollar for your house, take these steps to prepare your house for sale.
  3. I will do my homework. Knowing the importance of earnest money, and the pros and cons of short sales and foreclosures helps you avoid some of the pratfalls that come with the real estate market.
  4. I will get a home inspection. This is a simple measure that we suggest for buyers AND sellers, and you can read why in our blog post.  
  5. I will ask my real estate agent for recommendations. An experienced real estate agent can give you advice about readying your home for sale, looking for a new home and throughout the sale process. Don’t feel like you are going through the sale process alone, ask your real estate agent for advice.

Remember, just because your sister’s mother’s cousin is a realtor doesn’t mean they are the real estate agent for you, or have the experience or expertise to guide you through your real estate sale. Choose a top real estate agent with experience in Dodge and Jefferson counties, and surrounding Wisconsin communities. The right realtor can recommend home inspectors and other professionals necessary for your home purchase or sale, and has the expertise that can save you thousands of dollars—and that’s a New Year’s resolution that everyone can enjoy.

Why a Home Inspection Makes Cents

Share

brown houseWhen you’ve found the perfect home, the temptation to waive the home inspection can be strong. Why would the perfect home need a home inspection? It looks fine. Even if you have strong competition for a property, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. A good inspection is invaluable for buyers for several sound business reasons:

  • Don’t buy a money pit. Some of the most expensive repairs can be hidden, such as structural and electrical issues. Buying a home is a sound investment, and should remain as such. You don’t want to sick more money into the property than you have, or than it’s worth.
  • Outside verification of the previous homeowner’s work. Did you know the wall that the previous owner removed caused structural damage? Or that the person who flipped the home did not have any experience installing plumbing? A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner—even if you can’t tell the work was even done—was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the structure or foundation.
  • You still have time to ask for a seller to make repairs. If you do find issues, don’t panic. Until you close on the home, you have time to renegotiate with the owners (visit our previous post to find out what your options are). You can go back to the owners and ask for funds to fix the house, or ask them to fix the damage. If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale.
  • The opportunity to look ahead. 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 and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on the damage and when it needs to be repaired or replaced.

The most important item that any home inspector can give you is peace of mind and an education about your future investment. To find a good home inspector, talk to your agent. They can recommend a home inspector with the experience and knowledge that you need to make an informed decision about your home—and the amount of work and money needed to make it the perfect home, both aesthetically and structurally, inside and out.

How to Handle Home Inspection Snags

Share

brown houseYou found it!  The perfect house in the perfect neighborhood for the perfect price. Your paperwork is in order, your lender contacted. You’re ready for closing…until your home inspector gives you a list of problems with your house that’s as thick as a Harry Potter book.

What do you do? Give up? That is an option if your offer to buy is contingent upon a home inspection. If so, you have every right to pull out of the deal, especially if you are concerned about the scope of work the property needs. You also have a few other options:

  • Ask the seller to fix the problems. Make sure they not only fix the problems, but that they have a licensed repairman fix the issue.  Ask for paperwork so you can prove the problems were fixed when you resell the home.
  • Negotiate a lower price. You can go back to the sellers and negotiate the price down so you can fix the problems. If you take this option, make sure you actually fix the issue—especially safety hazards and foundation issues that could worsen over time.
  • Ignore the report. This is an option, but not a recommended one—especially if you have any intention of selling the house.  If you don’t have the issues fixed now, you’ll have to pay for the repairs.

Remember, you are not alone. Ask your realtor for advice. They’ve seen this before, and can make recommendations and submit the proper paperwork to help you walk away and find another dream house or make your dream home a perfectly repaired reality.

Where do you start your home search?

Share

3591You’ve watched the realty shows on television, right?  You know where to start with your home search.  Unfortunately, home searching is not that easy…but it’s not that hard, either.  Here’s a step-by-step guide that will guide you down the road to home ownership:

  • The lender. Don’t know where to find one? Contact a real estate agent for a referral. To set realistic parameters for your house search, you need to know how much you can afford and the amount a lender will give you—and if they will borrow you money. You don’t want to waste time looking at homes that you can’t afford.  Pick up the phone and contact a mortgage broker or your bank or credit union. Ask them what documents they need during the approval process, and the length of the approval process. Once they have documents like your W-2’s and tax returns, your mortgage lender will factor your income and credit rating into deciding if, and how much, they will give you. If the lender approves your loan, they will give you the maximum amount you are approved for, and the amount of your monthly payment.  Once you have the numbers, choose the monthly payment that will realistically work for you—you don’t have to borrow the maximum amount. Remember to add in property taxes, homeowner’s association fees and mortgage insurance, if applicable.
  • A property search checklist. Where do you want to live?  How many bedrooms do you want or need in your property? Do you want a large back yard? A condo with zero maintenance? Now is the time to write down your wants. Once you’ve written everything down, pick out the must haves and wants—and be prepared to make changes. It’s not unusual for a buyer’s list of must haves to change as they look at properties.
  • The realtor. Once you have the budget for your property search, now you can ask your friends for recommendations for a realtor. Your realtor will want to know your budget, ideal location and areas you will look in and what you are looking for (your must haves).  Be realistic.  You may not get every must have in your property. As you search, prioritize what must haves you need or want the most. Give your realtor feedback that they can use to zero in on the property that will work for you.

From there, your realtor will guide you to your final goal: HOME OWNERSHIP! Enjoy your new home, and your community. You own it!