The Essential Home Buyer’s Checklist

The prospect of buying a new home is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. In order to embrace the experience – and enjoy it for the overwhelmingly positive moment it should be – there are a few essential tips to help prioritize what you need to know even before you begin the search for a new home.

 

Know your target neighborhoods:

 

Before you begin to search for the home of your dreams, do your homework on the neighborhoods in the general area where you wish to live. Perhaps school quality is important to you, or maybe local ordinances will play into part of your decision. For example, you may wish to know the local restrictions for building a shed or a gazebo or if there are laws regarding certain types of pets. Being educated on the local codes and rules is important if you do not wish to be surprised down the road.

 

Applying for loans:

 

Being pre-approved, when possible, helps a home buyer make better budget choices in the ultimate selection of a home. Even when that isn’t possible, researching at least three different loan choices for the best rate is a savvy shopper’s secret to possible big savings in the end. Of course, know your credit score and the amount of your current debt when ready to apply.

 

Getting the best real estate agent:

 

Finding an agent that works for you to find the best home and helps negotiate the best deal is of great importance. While some may try to go it alone, having a professional in your corner means that when you have questions, you will be able to get the answers and resources you need to accurately address any concerns. They can, for example, assist in negotiating with the seller to have them buy a home warranty, which covers the buyer for any unseen major repairs for a year.

Once a house feels like it could be a prospective home, an agent can help you walk through the process of inspections, appraisals, and many other little things along the way.

 

Tips for Hosting a Successful Open House

Once you have decided to sell your home, one of the first things your real estate agent will do is schedule your open house. An open house is a showing of your home and property where prospective buyers can drop by and visit during a certain day and time. This is a proven way to get buyers interested in placing a bid or offer on the house quickly. More offers lead to getting a sale close to – or even above – your listing price at closing. When the date for the open house draws near, there are some proven ways to prepare your home to look its very best.

 

Boost the curb appeal: Be sure that the lawn is freshly mowed if it is during the spring or summer months. Clean up any yard damage from play or pets, fix fences, or even hire a landscaper to spruce things up around the yard. Do not assume that a buyer will see the potential in your property; rather, show them an inviting entrance to a home.

 

Kick the clutter: Clean it up! Sellers sometimes think that a buyer will be attracted to a homey atmosphere. This is a common mistake. Prospective buyers aren’t interested in seeing how the current inhabitants live. Instead, a buyer wishes to envision him or herself living in the home. So, avoid excessive knick-knacks, store excess furniture and any valuables in a storage locker or friend’s home, and put fresh towels in the restroom. A professional carpet cleaning or a coat of paint can also go a long way towards impressing the next owner.

 

Make other plans: Owners, their children, and pets should not be present for the open house. Many sellers find this uncomfortable, as they worry about their belongings and wish to supervise or answer questions. While this is a perfectly normal way to feel, it does make the buyers less likely to make an offer. They will feel disinclined to voice their honest opinions of your property to the agent.

 

A successful open house can culminate in multiple offers and a faster sale. A great agent will help with tips specific to your home’s unique appeal and be your guide through the process.

 

How to Prepare for Turning a Home into a Rental

How to Prepare for Turning a Home into a Rental

 

If you have made the decision to rent out the home you are living in rather than living in it yourself, you have some prep work to do. Not only do you have to get the home itself physically ready to rent, you also need to prepare yourself mentally. Understand that they are going to treat your home differently than they will and make yourself come to terms with that fact. Use some of the tips below to make the whole process much easier and safer for you and your future tenant.

 

Decide How Involved You Want to Be

 

You don’t have to deal with tenants at all if you don’t want to. Instead, you can turn your home over to a rental agency or real estate agent who will collect the rent and make timely visits to ensure that the property is being taken care of. This helps avoid any issues with getting personally involved with the tenant or letting your feelings about the house get in the way of how you manage your business.

 

Safety First

 

You may want to check with a local lawyer or building inspector to learn exactly what the rental codes are and what your responsibilities are toward the tenant. Some states require that you furnish appliances while others don’t. The same is true of things like smoke detectors.

 

You most likely have the best interests of everyone in mind, so it won’t hurt to take a few extra steps. Make sure that the smoke detectors are adequate and in working order. Check the stability of any and all handrails. Install GFI sockets near the sink, tub, and washer.

 

Get Neutral

 

Neutral tones are fairly common in rentals because they work with just about any kind of décor. Brown carpet is the most common because it hides traffic paths and minor stains better than most other colors do. When it comes to the walls, stay with one neutral color. This will prevent you from having to match paints every time a new tenant moves in.

 

You may not be trying to offer a palace, but you expect your tenant to be timely with the rent, so give them something worth renting. Make sure everything is in working order and create a schedule for doing things like changing furnace filters. The more you invest in maintaining the home as a reliable landlord, the more likely you are to have tenants who will stay for long periods of time and pay their rent in a timely manner.

 

Advertising Your Real Estate Listing: What Your Agent Does

Advertising Your Real Estate Listing: What Your Agent Does

You interview a few agents. They each give you their ideas on what needs to be done within your home to sell it. You make a ton of changes, paint the walls, and completely declutter. You sign a contract and your house is magically on the market. So what does your agent do next to make sure it is actually seen? While no two agents are alike, here are some of the things that often happen.

MLS Listings

The first thing your agent will do is take photographs of your home’s interior and exterior. This is quite a process and is a task you need to allow to happen. The agent will either do it himself or have a professional photographer working with his agency participate. The more the better. Showing your home from a myriad of angles will help those viewing your listings decide if they want to see it in person.

After the pictures are taken, your agent will set up an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) ad for your home. All of the details describing your home are listed online and this information is what feeds out to all of the home listing websites you love to browse. If you see your home on a website, the information is being pulled from the MLS.

Virtual Home Tours and Social Media

A virtual tour of your home, in the form of a video, may also be made. This video will be posted to YouTube and other video sharing sites to provide visitors with a more interactive view of your home. The listing will, of course, contain links back to your online home listings and your agent’s contact information.

Your agent should, hopefully, have a strong social media presence where he is also sharing links to your home, videos, pictures, and other pertinent information.

Agent Home Tour

While a lot of people are familiar with the concept of the open house and individual showings, not many are as familiar with the concept of the agent tour. An agent tour happens when your real estate agent invites other real estate agents to see your home. This increases exposure by allowing agents to see the home in person so that they have a fresh idea of what it’s like before recommending it to their potential buyers.

Real estate agents today have a lot of very creative options available to them when selling your home. Print ads, mailers, pamphlets for passers-by to take, and a little bit of old-fashioned scrutiny can go a very long way. Talk to us if you have concerns about where your home is being listed, or how. We’d love to help.

 

Understanding the Millennial Home Buyer

Understanding the Millennial Home Buyer

As a real estate agent, it is important to understand the individuals you’ll be working with. Different generations have different needs. The Millennial generation (those currently between the ages of 18 and 34), haven’t been quick to jump on home buying opportunities. In today’s market, they make up a very specific subset. Here’s what you need to understand.

Generation Y: The Millennial

Generation Y, or the Millennials, is made up of individuals born between 1980 and 1995. According to realtor.org, this group currently makes up 31% of the buying market and 12% of the selling market. Closer looks at the characteristics of the group show that only 6% initially buy a multi-generational home, which means a great portion of those buyers are repeat home buyers who are looking to upsize. All are motivated to own a home.

Challenges to Consider

Here is where things begin to get interesting. According to Bankrate.com, your Generation Y (and Generation X) buyers tend to fall into two distinct categories. You’ll find yourself working with a motivated young professional with a busy schedule – someone who wants a home that doesn’t really need any work. On the other hand, you may find yourself working with someone who is super creative and who wants to spend a lot of time creating a personalized home. Knowing exactly who you are working with will help you to determine which homes are better for showing, and whether or not you have any room to sway a person to something in the middle or in the other direction altogether.

Some researchers believe Millennials are completely changing the home buying process. The reality is that it is a big group and, as such, will have a lot of life demands and challenges that we haven’t seen before. The average member of Gen Y has an incredible amount of student loan debt. Young unmarried couples are more willing to purchase homes together than older after-marriage traditionalists. They like to move a lot and aren’t afraid of flipping.

Working hard to better connect with your real estate clients? Contact us today to talk about establishing a relationship with Century 21. We’re here to help you grow.

 

Is It Possible to Sell a Home in the Winter?

Is It Possible to Sell a Home in the Winter?

A lot of people look at the winter season as an absolutely horrific time of year to purchase a home. Truth be told, it’s not always the most pleasant time of the year, but it’s still possible to sell.

What are the Drawbacks?

You’re fighting a lot in the winter months. First, you have to compete with the holiday season, during which everyone tends to focus on each day and generally not on moving. Then you have the deepest part of the winter to contend with, including bitter cold, ice, and snow. People just don’t want to go out in the dark, especially in dreary conditions.

The Benefits of a Winter Sale

The benefits are, of course, that any buyer you do meet is very likely moving quickly and with purpose. Many winter buyers do so for a reason – a job relocation, a divorce – some sort of need. They don’t tend to have a ton of time to shop around and aren’t interested in prolonging the process.

Believe it or not, the numbers support not waiting until the Spring to put your home on the market. According to the Redfin Research Center, winter listings are 9% more likely to sell, are likely to sell a week faster than other homes, and generally sell for 1.2% more than home sold during other times of the year. That’s huge!

How to Sell Faster in the Winter

You will, of course, need to make some effort to make your home appealing during the winter months. Make sure your home is always well-list, especially since people looking to buy may be visiting after work, when it’s colder. Make sure your driveway and walkways are cleared of snow and are salted to prevent dangerous ice accumulation.

Make sure the inside of your home is warm and inviting as well, and ensure your holiday clutter is carefully put away. A warm, clean home will allow potential visitors to envision themselves living in your space, no matter how dreary it is outside.

Not sure if winter is right for you? Talk to your real estate agent. We can help you decide when and how to list your home and what price points are best.

 

Just Moved? Time to Make Some New Friends

Just Moved? Time to Make Some New Friends

A lot of people worry about how pets and children will adjust after a move. Adolescents and teens are incredibly social yet often have a hard time finding new peer groups and making friends. And while these are all obstacles that are often overcome, we often handle these issues without considering how the adults in the house will adjust socially to a move.

Wait. What? Yes, you. The adults. It doesn’t matter if you moved 20 minutes from your old house or 200 miles away. You are in a new neighborhood and just dropping everything for a cup of coffee with your friend up the street won’t be possible unless you make a few new friends in your new vicinity.

Making New Friends

Making new friends doesn’t mean you have to ditch your old friends, but you need to have a social circle you can turn to locally. Here are a few ways to meet people in a new area:

  • Join a meet-up group. Look online for local meet-up groups happening in public places and go check one out. You probably won’t be the only one there who hasn’t met anyone in the group before, and you may just find that commonality to bond over.

  • Find a sports team to join. Love soccer? Love baseball? There are adult fun-leagues all over the place. Find one and you’ll not only get some great exercise but will make friends with a common interest.

  • Take a hobby class. There are plenty around, from new paint studios to ceramic classes. Maybe sewing, knitting, or even sign language. Check out the adult classes that are often listed in community brochures or college catalogs and see if something interests you.

Setting Guidelines

Here is where things will get hairy. First, you need to become more comfortable with yourself. You need to be willing to have dinner in a restaurant – alone; to go grocery shopping in a new store – alone; to take a class where you may not meet a new friend – alone. Go to a museum; check out an art gallery; check out the local coffee shop’s open mic night. Just go and open yourself up to opportunity, whether it be enjoying the experience or striking up a conversation with someone new.

At the same time, you need to have guidelines for the types of people you’ll allow into your life. If something strikes you as odd about a person you see at a meet-up, don’t feel obligated to exchange contact info – or don’t use it when given. If you have fun, get an email address. If you keep calling people but they never call you, look to find other people who will reciprocate your friendship in a friendlier way.

Not sure what to do? Talk to your real estate agent. Many are familiar with the areas in which they are selling and can probably help you to find the resources you need to get out there, have a little fun, and meet some people in the process.

That’s Not Fair! How to Determine a Realistic Asking Price for Your Home

That’s Not Fair! How to Determine a Realistic Asking Price for Your Home

Determining the asking price for a home has to be one of the most difficult parts of the selling process. You’ve spent weeks, maybe months, preparing your home for sale – making repairs and upgrades – and you want to get the best price possible. The asking price of any home is influenced by a number of factors, though, and many are completely out of your control.

Do Your Homework

There are a lot of websites you can use to estimate what your home’s sale price may be. Zestimate (from Zillow) and dozens of others will assess the neighborhood, age of the home, size, and other factors to give you a figure to start with. A lot of these tools won’t take upgrades you have made to the home into account, so you may need to make some adjustments.

Make Necessary Adjustments

Don’t get your hopes up if you think the price you’ve come up with is really good compared to the homes that have sold recently in your area. You really want to be within 10% of the most recent sales nearby to be considered in the correct ballpark; and that’s still not necessarily going to be the best price for your home.

A few things you’re going to need to consider include supply and demand, or how many homes are available for sale in your area. The more there is to see, the more competitive your price will need to be. If interest rates are trending high, you may find a smaller pool of potential buyers, so you’ll need to appeal to them. The season even makes a difference. People love to move in the spring, so you may get a higher asking price; but in the winter? Forget it. You’ll either find a buyer who is desperate or wait until spring rolls around again unless you adjust your price.

Talk to Your Real Estate Agent

One of your agent’s primary jobs is to help you set a realistic price point for your home. The financial market, the housing market, and the mindset of the buyer are all things that need to be taken into consideration. Your real estate agent will do her best to help you to set a fair asking price that will move you quickly towards a final sale.