Real Estate Tips
Tips for buying a house
The top 10 things you need to know when buying a home.
1. Don't buy if you can't stay put.
If you can't commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner - even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it's an even worse proposition.
2. Start by shoring up your credit.
Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.
3. Aim for a home you can really afford.
The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you'll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.
4. If you can't put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.
There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a small down payment.
5. Buy in a district with good schools.
In most areas, this advice applies even if you don't have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you'll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.
6. Get professional help.
Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.
7. Choose carefully between points and rate.
When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points -- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing -- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time -- say three to five years or more -- it's usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.
8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.
Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can't afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.
9. Do your homework before bidding.
Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that's about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.
10. Hire a home inspector.
Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that's just the bank's way of determining whether the house is worth the price you've agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.
Tips for Selling Your Home
The top 10 things you need to know when selling a home.
1. Price it right from the start.
Sellers often think they should start the asking price high and then lower it later if the house fails to sell. As good as that sounds, unfortunately, that can result in a slower sale many times at a lower price. The first 30 days your house is on the market is the highest visibility window it will experience and is always the best activity you’re going to see. If the price is too high, many buyers and their agents will stay away, assuming you’re not serious about selling or you’re unwilling to negotiate
2. Enhance the “Curb Appeal.”
It’s all about first impressions. This could mean adding new sod, planting flowers, painting the front door or replacing the mailbox. Prospective buyers form an opinion the moment they spot the home. "Curb Appeal” is everything. As a perspective buyer pulls into your driveway and begins walking toward your front door they have already developed a subliminal set of impressions about your house and their expectations for what it is worth.
3. Refresh and update.
New fixtures, fresh paint and updated landscaping are all fairly easy and affordable ways to give your home a makeover. At a minimum, your home needs to match comparable homes in the market and what’s in style.
4. Clean, declutter and depersonalize.
The fewer things there are in the home, the larger it will look. Remove unnecessary decorations and excess furniture. Also, store any family photos, religious items, unusual accessories, political accents and any distinctive personal trimmings. Make sure your prospective buyers can envision their family in the house, not yours. Finally, you may want to hire a cleaning service to do a deep cleaning.
5. Stage the house to show how the rooms are supposed to be used.
If you have odd rooms with no obvious role, give them one. An odd alcove off the kitchen could be staged as an office or a pantry, for example.
6. Make the property easy to show.
The more flexible you are about visits, the more people will be able to see your home. Be ready for prospective visitors early in the morning, at night and on weekends, with little notice. Also, leave when the house is shown so would-be buyers can feel free to move about without feeling like intruders and discuss the home's pros and cons honestly.
7. Remove your pets.
Also remove their paraphernalia, such as dog dishes and cat litter boxes (or at least hide them). A prospective buyer shouldn’t even know that a pet lives in the home if you can help it.
8. Make sure to list on all social media sites.
This is usually part of an agent’s service, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check that your listing is on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. It also helps if your agent showcases the home on social media. “We sell as many homes off Facebook as we do off the MLS Multiple Listing Service). Both the agency and the individual agents have Facebook business pages where they share listings.
9. Have good photos, and lots of them.
Most home buyers start their search online and decide which homes they want to see based on the photos. You probably want something better than snapshots taken quickly with your agent’s phone. Talk to your realtor about having professional photos taken.
10. Share your neighborhood.
The listing should include photos not only of the house, but also of nearby recreation, dining and shopping areas. If the schools are good, make sure that information is in the listing. Make sure to market not only your home, but the environment and lifestyle it reflects.
Thanks to US News and World Report Money and CNN Money for these tips