Original Post Courtesy of The Lighter Side of Real Estate
If you’ve ever bought a house, or even rented a property you may find yourself wondering how the previous owners or tenants kept the place looking so pristine when they lived there. Where did they keep their DVD collection? Did they really own just three outfits a piece? How did they keep the place smelling so fresh? Well, we’re about to let you in on a little industry secret… it’s all staged.
Home staging is fast becoming big business with professional home stagers more popular than ever before with private sellers and agencies alike, the reason for this is when a home is staged and prepped correctly, it appeals to the largest percentage of potential buyers and because of that it often sells more quickly and for more money, for example, a high rise penthouse apartment in the city will appeal to a different audience compared to a quaint country cottage out in the sticks.
However, it’s not all about having a tidy up and making sure your grass is cut, a touch of psychology is involved too, you need to encourage potential buyers to envisage themselves living at the property with their own possessions, so giving them a somewhat blank canvas is key.
Hiring a professional home stager can be costly so with that in mind, we would like to share with you some useful money saving tips that are used by professionals to help make your property more appealing and hopefully get you the sale that you wanted:
Courtesy of www.sheknows.com
Buying a home for the first time is a huge and exciting milestone. These tips will help you avoid the pitfalls and find your dream house.
We're all about getting clients into homes they love. But before you make the leap, make sure you're really ready for home ownership. It should be a joy, not a burden. Take into account not only the cost of taxes, financing and insurance but also the expense of maintaining and improving the house. A good rule of thumb is to buy only if you plan to own the home for at least five years. If you think you may relocate before that (say, if you're planning a career or job change), it's probably wiser to rent.
1. Get pre-approved for financing
If you're ready to buy, get pre-approved (not just pre-qualified) for financing. This will tell you what loan amount you qualify for based on your income, credit rating, down payment and existing debt. We recommend that clients pay down the latter (and avoid new debt, such as a car loan) before seeking a home loan. Check your credit score before a lender does, to spot and correct any errors. Getting pre-approved allows you to move quickly on a property (and, as a first-time buyer, you don't have to worry about first selling your current home).
2. Don't max your budget
Don't max out your budget. Borrowing the maximum loan amount to buy the priciest place you can afford is often shortsighted. Keep in mind that you'll have to pay two percent or more of the loan value in closing costs. You'll also be paying property tax and insurance. Also consider the need to save for retirement, education and other goals.
3. List your needs and wants
To get the most for your money, start by listing needs and wants. Needs are must-haves. If you're about to start a family, you need more bedrooms and baths. If you work at home, you need an area for that. Wants are non-essential niceties like a gourmet kitchen or a media room. If they fit your budget, that's great, but focus first on your essential needs.
4. Find a good real estate agent
Find a good real estate agent (like Drew) to help you focus your search. A savvy agent can clarify the trade-offs in choosing one home or neighborhood over another. Are you willing to accept a longer commute to get more space? Are you looking for proximity to good schools, shops and parks, which will typically cost more? Use online sources to research homes and neighborhoods, but don't stop there. If you're serious about a property, check it out at different hours of the day and night and talk to neighbors about what they like and don't like about the area.
5. Shop around
Expect to look at plenty of homes to find one that seems right for you. Whether you bid above, at or below the asking price depends on various factors, such as how long it's been on the market, how much improvement it may require and information from your agent on comparable properties. Make the sale contingent on a satisfactory report from a certified home inspector, and arrange to be there for the inspection so you can voice concerns and ask questions. An inspection can reveal hidden issues that may justify nixing the sale, fixing the problems or negotiating a lower price. It can also give you peace of mind about your purchase.
Sound scary? Remember, every homeowner started as a first-time buyer. Fortunately, first-timers today have more resources than ever. Take your time, keep an open mind, benefit from the many helpful agents and lenders and you'll soon find a home to call your own.
Buying a home is one of life’s best experiences! Excitement is in the air and buyers are full of hope and anticipation. The dream of owning a home to call your own seems to be a universal one. Of course, the fun nostalgia of touring prospective houses will hopefully lead you to the home of your dreams.
But then what? Regardless of whether you have a smooth-sailing transaction or road block after road block on path of home ownership, the process of purchasing real estate is a complicated one. Here are some items you can expect to include on your checklist once you’ve found the home of your dreams:
Write Your Offer
There is far more to negotiating the terms of your offer than simply the purchase price. Sellers will consider other factors such as the type and legitimacy of your financing, whether you have a home to sell, whether you’re willing to waive certain contingencies and more. You’re Realtor will help you understand your options in order to craft your offer as competitively possible for the circumstances.
Once you submit your offer, it is usually reasonable to expect a counteroffer from the seller. Of course, each party is hoping for the best possible terms of the contract. If you’re buying a home, it’s best to use a Realtor that is representing you exclusively. If the agent (who has a legal obligation to represent the seller with whom they have a contract) or the agent’s firm also represents the seller they have created a dual agency. Use an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent that is interested in ensuring your best interests in the negotiations.
Once both parties have mutually agreed to the terms, as the buyer you can expect to write your first check of the transaction. The Earnest Money check is a good faith deposit you used to show the seller your vested interest in closing the deal. The dollar amount will have already been agreed upon and used as part of your negotiation. Fear not, home buyer; your Realtor has your best interest in mind and your earnest money should be protected based on the following contingencies:
- Inspection – A good inspector will tell you about any safety concerns or major repairs the house may need. The inspection is also your time to learn about your home and any functions or defects. Plan on investing three to four hundred dollars (in the Spokane area) and a few hours of your time because it is well worth it! You will have an opportunity to renegotiate your terms based on the inspection.
- Appraisal – Your lender will order an appraisal to determine the value of the home to protect you (and the bank) from paying more than fair market value for the home. Expect to pay five to six hundred dollars for your appraisal fee. Many lenders will wrap this in to your closing costs or loan and those are terms you’ll have to discuss with your lender. If the appraisal comes in below purchase price your Realtor will guide you through that process. In addition, VA and FHA loan appraisers will be looking for additional conditions such as roof life, broken windows, chipping paint and more.
- Financing – This contingency is to protect you as the buyer from being obligated to purchase the home if you are not able to obtain financing on reasonable terms. You must make reasonable efforts to obtain the financing.
- Title – If the title on the home does not come back clear (for example: the home owner has a lien on his home from unpaid debts) your Realtor will help you explore your options.
Other Road Blocks
Throughout the process of buying a home you should expect one or two if not several hiccups to cross you: your lender could ask you to pay off a student loan, something major could turn up on the inspection, the curtains you loved were removed upon the seller moving out, etc. Your Realtor is your representation. Utilize someone you trust to guide you in the right direction upon these happenings.
During the final weeks you can expect your lender and closing agent to be preparing all of the documents needed to close your transaction. Your Realtor is there to help facilitate the process. The last steps are to sign a giant stack of paperwork, fund the sale and record the transaction.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Those keys are worth a lot of money (to you and the seller) so don’t expect to receive them a moment before the process is fully completed.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW HOME!