Buying your first home can be an exciting, yet often overwhelming, experience. These 10 tips will help you navigate the process.
1. Clean up your credit.
If you have poor credit, you are a bigger risk in the eyes of lenders. You’ll pay the price in the form of higher interest rates. Higher rates can reduce the amount of home you can afford or keep you out of the housing market altogether. Make a point of paying auto loans, credit card bills, and other payments on time and in full. If you want help developing a plan, you can contact a housing counseling agency, often at little or no cost.
You may need money for your down payment, closing costs, moving and other expenses. See down payment assistance program for more information.
3. Get preapproved for your loan.
A lender can tell you generally what you can afford and how much you can borrow. This will give you an edge with sellers in a competitive market. See a list of lenders near you who offer our home buyer programs.
4. Be realistic.
Your dream house could quickly turn into a nightmare if you spend more than you can really afford. Pick a house with a mortgage payment that will allow you to be comfortable in other aspects of your life.
5. Consult with a real estate professional.
Real estate agents are invaluable in providing information about homes and their neighborhoods. In addition, if you hire a real estate agent as your representative, he or she will be working on your behalf and may get you a better deal on your home. Most of the time, buyer’s representatives are paid out of the seller’s commission. Our Preferred Real Estate Professionals are licensed agents who have taken our “Financing Dreams” class.
6. Research the neighborhood.
A good real estate agent can help you with this. Check out the ratings of the neighborhood schools. Even if you don’t have children, this could be important when you try to sell the house in the future. Also, make sure you know the proximity to anything that might be deemed undesirable, such as airports and major highways, and ask your real estate agent for zoning information on any areas surrounding the home and neighborhood.
7. Make any offer contingent on an inspection.
Even if the house looks perfect to you, chances are that it’s not. A professional inspection can help you understand the condition of the property and identify problems you may encounter in the future. To find a home inspector in your area, consult the American Society of Home Inspectors.
8. Ask the seller for utility bills or estimates.
Costs for electricity, gas, and water can add up. Sellers should be able to provide copies of bills or estimates to give you an idea of what to expect.
9. Don’t change your financial status.
From the time you decide to buy a home until you actually close on the loan is not the time to make major changes in your finances. Don’t quit your job, don’t buy a new car or make any other large purchases, and don’t stop paying your bills. Changes like these can result in even a preapproved loan being denied before closing.
1. Preparing Your House For Sale When selling, you want the best price and most favorable terms. There are a myriad of marketing options and details that go into a sale, from the time you set the price to closing. When marketing your property, if it is properly prepared for showing an interested buyer, it will bring the best price, terms…and ultimately sell in the shortest time frame. Helpful tips for preparing or staging include:
Remove clutter from the yard
Cut and edge grass
Trim hedges and weed gardens
Paint, fix or wash railings, steps, storm windows, screens and doors
Straighten up garage
Paint, wash and fix garage doors and windows
Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets
Replace all burned out light bulbs
Repair faulty light switch
Oil door hinges, tighten door knobs
Carpet professionally cleaned or replaced if in poor condition
Give home a through cleaning
2. Showing Your Home Once your home is ready to show, we will begin marketing it to potential buyers and other sales associates. If possible, leave the home when buyers are present so they feel comfortable asking their agent candid questions. Other helpful tips include:
Remove pets. Take them with you or keep them penned in the yard or garage.
Open shades and curtains to let in light.
Turn on enough lights so the home is well lit.
Remove clutter from tables and bookshelves. Neatness makes rooms seem larger.
Put away items in the yard like garden tools, bicycles and toys.
Light a fire in the fireplace to create a cozy atmosphere.
Grind up part of a lemon in the disposal to add a fresh smell to the kitchen.
Keep radios and TVs off, or on a low volume.
Keep money and other valuables, as well as prescription drugs, out of sight.
3. Getting the Highest Price in the Shortest Time In order to get the highest price in the shortest time, you need to know how to market your home. The better you market your home, the more offers you will get. And the more offers you get, the more choices you have to get the price and terms you want.
The most important factor of marketing your home is pricing it right. Your price should be adjusted to reflect the market, and the property’s worth. The key is to get many people checking out your property at a fair price instead of having no buyers because your price is set too high.
Another important factor is the condition of your home. Make sure that your home looks ready to be sold. Fix any defects (peeling or faded paint, cracks, stains, etc.) Condition alone can sometimes prompt fast buying decisions. Not only should you fix any defects, but consider upgrading your home by making major repairs and cosmetic improvements before selling. A nice looking home triggers the emotional response that can lead to a financial response.
Learn how to negotiate the best terms for all parties involved. Terms are another factor which may be adjusted to attract buyers. If you insist on getting your asking price, think of what you can offer to the buyers, for example, improvements you’ve made, or even offering seller financing at a lower than market interest rate on a portion of the sale price. Convince them why they should be paying the price you have set.
Lastly, get the buzz out about your home. List your house with a hot agent that ensures your house is listed on the MLS and on the Internet. On your own, get the word out. It should be visible to passerby’s that your house if for sale, whether it be signs, local advertisements or you telling friends, family, and acquaintances.
4. Know Why You are Selling If you know exactly why you are selling, then it is easier for you to set the right plan of action to get what it is that you want.
If you are a seller who needs to close a sale as quickly as possible, then you should know that getting the highest price possible is not one of your priorities. It does not mean that you won’t or cannot get the highest price, but it means that the price is not the deciding factor. A buyer who can give you a quick closing time will appeal much more to you than a buyer who can offer you more money but the negotiation and closing time drag on.
It’s always good to know how low you will go, in terms of selling price. This will help to eliminate some of the offers that you find simply offensive or ridiculous. Even though you should consider all offers seriously and take into consideration the terms of each offer, sometimes, if you know the bottom line and are strict about it, you can save yourself time.
Once you know what your limits and reasons are, discuss them with your agent so that they can help you set your goals realistically. If you decide to list your home on your own, make sure you do research on the current market, and you get the proper advice you need in terms of legal issues, etc. The key is to be realistic and to know what your goals are so that they can be met.
5. Setting the Price The price is the first thing buyers notice about your property. If you set your price too high, then the chance of alienating buyers is higher. You want your house to be taken seriously, and the asking price reflects how serious you are about selling your home.
Several factors will contribute to your final decision. First, you should compare your house to others that are in the market. If you use an agent, he/she will provide you with a CMA. The CMA will reflect the following:
Houses in your price range and area sold within the last year
Asking and selling prices of houses
Current inventory of houses on the market
Features of each house on the market
From the CMA, you will find out the difference between the asking price and selling price for all homes sold, the condition of the market, and other houses comparable to yours.
Also, try to find out what types of houses are selling and see if it applies to your area. Buyers follow trends, and these trends can help you set your price.
Always be realistic. And understand and set your price to reflect the current market situation.
6 . Finding the Right Agent Not all agents work the same way. The most important attribute of an agent is that he/she is well connected to the real estate industry. He/she should know the market and provide information on past sales, current listings, his or her marketing plan, and at least 4 solid references. In addition, you also want to look for an agent that is honest, assertive, and one that best understands your needs.
Try to go with a local agent. They can better serve your needs; they are familiar with what the local market condition is, the local prices are, and what’s hot or not in your community.