7 Secrets Real Estate Pros Know to Get the Best Deal on a Home

  When it comes to buying a home, everyone wants the best property they can find for the least amount of money possible. To make this seemingly impossible dream a reality, there are some steps you should take to get the best deal out there. Start by doing your homework and researching property values in the area, then time your move wisely. Here are tried-and-true tips to get the best deal on a home.
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1. Do your homework before you start looking at houses.

It might sound boring, but if you don’t know if you’re pre-approved for a mortgage and if you don’t have your paperwork in order, you could miss out on a great house. Usually everyone is all over a good deal, so you want to be prepared to make an offer quickly if necessary. This paperwork takes time, and if it isn’t ready to go, you could miss the window of opportunity. You also need to make sure you can afford the property to begin with, too!

2. Consider buying a fixer upper.

If you’re young and looking for a first home, you might not want to go all-in on a more expensive, move-in-ready place. You can save a lot of money by looking at a house that has great bones but needs a superficial facelift. Look at the potential and be willing to update that pink bathroom. Plus, remodeling the room may allow you to up the price even further when you eventually go to sell the property.

3. Look at the values of other properties in the area.Related image

While you need to take the property values you see on real estate sites with a grain of salt, work with your agent to evaluate the prices in the area. Check out pictures, look at materials and finishes in the home, think about lot size. Be really critical and take everything into consideration, because all of it impacts the price of the home. And remember: while it’s not in an agent’s best interest to overprice a house they want to sell, doing this research beforehand can help you negotiate a price.

4. Have your agent explain your offer.

After doing all that research, there is a reason why the price you decided on is what it is. Make sure that this reasoning is communicated to the seller. I like to put a personal touch on the offer and write up a little something about how we landed on the number we did. You want to start a dialogue and not just go in with a blanket statement.

5. Check how long the property has been on the market.Image result for how long property on market

 

People usually want to sell their homes in a timely fashion, so it should raise a flag if a property has been on the market for six months to a year. Have your agent call and see what’s up with the house. Don’t be afraid to make an offer, though! You want it to be fair, but when a house has been sitting that long, you never know what someone would be willing to take unless you ask.

6. Look to buy in late fall or winter.

There are definitely more popular times of year to list or look for a home. Surprisingly, the spring market can start as early as right after Super Bowl Sunday. Everyone is trying to buy in the spring, but the late fall is the most underrated time of year. You can find great properties because sellers are eager and want things wrapped up by the holidays. Plus, many buyers aren’t willing to move during the winter, so you’ll have less competition.

7. Make sure you have good credit. 

 

Mortgage companies will reward people with better credit. Shop around and make sure you’re getting the best rates and packages for your unique situation. Look at roughly three different options. You’ll also want to get the help of an experienced mortgage broker. Have credit in order (680 and above), employment history, and income ready to go. If these factors aren’t in good standing, you could end up paying higher rates.

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Buying a House in 2019: Things You Need to Know

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Buying a house is a minefield full of “I didn’t know thats.” From choosing the right home to qualifying for the best mortgage, you want to minimize the things you don’t know.

So let’s lower your “didn’t-know” ratio. With a shifting lending landscape, unpredictable interest rates and down payment priorities based on your local market, here’s what you’ll need to know about buying a home this year.

 

 

What’s the first step to buying a house?

With acute shortages of homes for sale in so many markets throughout the nation, getting a pre-approval for a home loan is more important than ever. Cash buyers used to give sellers confidence that a deal would close quickly, but fewer cash buyers are shopping right now. And when houses weren’t in such short supply, buyers didn’t face the pressures of intense seller’s markets.

With a lender lined up and a pre-approval letter in your pocket, sellers know you’re serious. With a pre-approval, sellers feel comfortable that, ‘Hey, this guy is a legit person who is going to buy and close.’ Prospective buyers need to immediately start with the lender. See what you can afford and see what your hurdles are going to be. Shopping for homes before gaining a loan pre-approval can be a big home buyer mistake. Some buyers don’t realize how many underwriting deal breakers that can hijack — or significantly delay — getting a mortgage there are.

Those home loan approval pitfalls can include issues with student loans, significant recent cash deposits, and the manner in which self-employed income is reported.

 

How much house can I afford?

‘How much house can I afford?’ is the first-time home buyer question. We offer a rule-of-thumb to help.

Instead of telling them about debt-to-income ratios, first-time buyers better consider three times their income as a starting point. So, if you and your spouse have a combined annual income of $110,000, most likely $330,000 will be your price range, plus or minus a couple of percent. But rather than guessing, you can simply take the first step — talking to a lender.

 

What’s up with interest rates?

Another change impacting the real estate market is interest rate volatility. Many experts predicted rates to steadily rise throughout 2019, yet so far 30-year mortgage rates aren’t far from where they were a year ago. At this point, it’s not clear where they’re headed over the next 12 months.

In fact, more than a third of Americans say they plan to buy within the next five years — and nearly one-fourth of those prospective buyers say they’ll buy in the next 12 months, according to NerdWallet’s 2019 Home Buyer Report.

 

What credit score do I need?

A credit score of 620 is typically the minimum that mortgage lenders are looking for, though some lenders will go as low as 580 or below.

What we see is that average credits are usually 620 to 680, very good credits are 680 to 740, and if you’re over 740, you’re spotless.

 

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How much do I need to put down on a house?

People still think they need 20% down. Three percent down, 5% down are the ways people are buying homes. Ten percent down is the average in the nation right now. You don’t need 20% down to buy a home. It’s the biggest myth out there.

20% down — especially in a tight market — is going to come into play. If somebody else has 10% and you’ve got 20, that’s going to be a factor. Listing agents will usually advise sellers to go with the buyer who has the most cash on the table.

 

How long does it take to buy from start to finish?

You know what’s changed in the last three years in mortgages? Speed to closing is more important now than ever.

Application-to-closing times are shrinking. For the 12-month period ending in January 2019, average closing times for purchase and refinance loans combined were about 43 days, according to Ellie Mae, a mortgage industry technology provider.

For refi loans alone, the average was about 40 days. For the same period in 2015-2016, the averages were 46 days for all loans and 47 for refis.

 

The best real estate deals allow everyone to shake hands and walk away from the table feeling like a winner. And in what looks to be another year of uncertainty, disappointment and just plain incivility, spreading a little extra goodwill during the negotiations and at the closing table seems like a very good idea indeed.

8 Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Home

Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you’re selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.

 

Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes first
You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Selling Secret #5: Don’t over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.

Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

Selling Secret #7: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Selling Secret #8: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

 
 
 
 

Tips for a First-Time Home Seller

Homeowners don’t generally think about filling the shoes of a first-time home seller until they decide to buy a new home. Usually, the motivating factor is the need to move — due to work-related issues or the needs of a growing family — and that generally involves buying another house.

It’s when the homeowners stop to consider the move that it may dawn on them, yes, because they need to sell, they are now a first-time home seller. Selling a home is very different from buying a home. Whereas buying a home generally involves emotions and feelings, selling a home typically centers on what listing agents like to call maximizing profit potential.

 

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Price Your Home Accurately

Price your home accurately. For this, you should enlist the help of a reputable listing agent. Don’t choose your cousin’s sister-in-law, for example, who dabbles in real estate. You’ll fare much better if you select an experienced real estate agent who sells a fair number of listings, preferably in your neighborhood.

Your agent will analyze comparable sales and prepare an estimate of value often called a CMA, for comparative market analysis. It is OK to compare the Zestimate at Zillow but note the variances your agent will point out because your listing agent should have the experience and education to provide you with a more accurate opinion of value.

Home Staging Boosts Selling Power and Appeal

Ask your agent to advise you on preparing your home for sale. Most homes show better with about half of the furniture removed. If a buyer walks in the door and wonders if anybody lives in the house, you’ve done your job correctly. Consider home staging to boost your selling power and appeal. Painting is the single most effective improvement you can make. Don’t let dings in the woodwork or scraps on the walls make your home reflect deferred maintenance.

The Best Day to List Your Home

Choose the best day to list your home. This time period will vary depending on your local community, the weather, time of year, and a host of other factors, including the state of your present real estate market. It’s not like that movie Groundhog Day. You basically get one chance to present your home in hopefully its best light the first day on the market.

Ask About Your Agent’s Standard Real Estate Commission

Ask about your agent’s standard real estate commission before you get too far down the line. If it’s reasonable, consider the big picture and benefits to you to hire this individual. Check track records for performance. Don’t expect a full-service agent to discount. Getting into a contract is only the beginning; you need to make it all the way to closing.

Your home will not sell itself, despite what you may read or hear or the propensity of real estate websites to make the process appear as easy as the click of a mouse. It’s not. You don’t know what you don’t know. To get the most money from the sale of your home, you will most likely rely on the professionals you have hired to sell your home. Do not try to pit agents against each other to compete for commission or you’ll increase the chances you’ll end up with a weasel. You don’t deserve a weasel.

Be Flexible With Home Showings

Be flexible with showings. If home showings are too much of an imposition, consider going away the first weekend your home is on the market. Yes, it can feel a bit intrusive to allow strangers to trek through your home and check out your soft-closing drawers in the kitchen. The best way to sell your home is to let a buyer inside with her buyer’s agent to tour in peace and quiet. Leave the house when buyer’s agents show up. Anything you say can and will be used against you, plus, buyer’s agents prefer to show without interference.

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Allow an open house if your home is conducive to an open house. Not every home is a viable candidate for an open house. If your home is located in an area close to major traffic, that is generally indicative of a reasonable expectation that the open house signs will pull in visitors. Ask your agent if she advertises the open house online. Many a home buyer has had no desire to buy a home until she spots an open house and subsequently falls in love.

 

Insist on Professional Photography

Of course, if you have hired a top-notch listing agent, your agent most likely already provides professional photos. It’s not enough to just get the angle right in the photo, the most popular photos are rich in color and depth, and they entice. Ask to approve the virtual tour or photo tour before it publishes.

Review Your Listing Online

Look at your home listing on various websites to make sure the information conveyed is accurate. Agents do their best to ensure accuracy, but since it is your home, you know the details better than anyone. If you spot a feature that is missing, contact your agent immediately and ask for an inclusion.

Respond Promptly to a Purchase Offer

Try to respond promptly to a purchase offer. Many offers contain a date by which the offer expires. Notwithstanding, it can drive buyers crazy if they are forced to wait for a seller to decide whether to accept their offer or to issue a counteroffer. Remember, if you are selling because you need to buy a new home, you are no different when you are a home buyer yourself.

Line Movers Up Early

Line up your movers early. If you are thinking about moving at the end of May, for example, which is the busiest time of the year for movers, you might find it is impossible to locate movers for the day you want. You can start packing before your home hits the market, which will give you a head start on the process. It will also give you peace of mind to be prepared. Selling can be stressful enough.

Tips for Sellers: Setting the Price & Considering Offers

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 (Comparative Market Analysis). The CMA will reflect the following:

  • houses in your price range and area that were sold within the last half-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 learn 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. Understand and set your price to reflect the current market situation.

 

Considering Offers

When reading an offer, keep in mind that you are out to get the best price AND the best terms for you. If you focus solely on the price, you may overlook terms that could be favorable to you as a buyer.

Some terms that may work in your favor:

  1. The Earnest Money Deposit (EMD)
  2. The Contingencies
  3. The Down Payment
  4. The All-Cash Offer
  5. The Closing Date

When reading through offers, remember to look at the whole package. Take the time that you need to assess what is being offered and if it meets your needs.

Home-Buying: How To Find The Right Seller

The best seller is one who is highly motivated. A highly motivated seller is more likely to sell at a price that is less than his or her house is actually worth. And it matters that you find out why. Learning the reason why can help you get the price you want and help the seller get what they want: a timely sale.

When given the opportunity to meet with sellers, ask them why they are selling. The reason could be anything, such as a job change to a new location or financial problems. If you can solve their problem, whether it is cash related or time related, do so. For example, if the sellers are highly motivated because they need to move quickly, give them a fast sale – and a lower price. If you can make an offer, even a low one, that gives them cash in a short time, they are more likely to accept.

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There are also some sellers that you should avoid. Not every seller is as genuinely motivated as they make themselves to be. Some possible hints:

  • they stall on having the home appraised or inspected
  • they are unable to clear up liens against their property
  • they do not own 100% of their property
  • they push back the move-out date
  • they do not have a replacement property or back up plan
  • etc.

It is impossible to find the perfect seller. But it is possible to find out which sellers are legit and which ones aren’t.