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Resources for Buyers
First Time Buyers
You've picked a great time to buy your first home. You can enjoy peace of mind working with RE/MAX, the industry leader in experience and service. Here are some tips to help you with the process of becoming your own landlord.
Prequalify for a loan
Being prequalified for a loan determines how much house you can afford. It also allows you to move more swiftly when you find the right house, especially when you aren't the only interested buyer.
Shop for mortgage rates and terms
A difference of even half a percentage point can make a huge difference in how much you pay over the life of a loan. For example, the difference in the monthly payment on a $100,000 mortgage at 5.5 percent vs. 5 percent is about $35 per month. Over 30 years, that's $12,600.
Using a buyer agent
A buyer agent is legally responsible for representing the buyer's interest in a real estate transaction. Generally, the buyer agent is compensated by the seller at the time you purchase a new home. There are some limitations to using a buyer agent, however. Before you decide, have a REALTOR® explain the advantages and disadvantages of using a buyer agent.
Features that help or hurt resale value
In some areas, a swimming pool actually detracts from a home's value and makes the home harder to sell. In neighborhoods with two-car, attached garages, a single-car
or detached garage may impact the home sale and future value. Your REALTOR® can point out features that hurt, as well as those which help, resale value.
Rate the houses you tour
After touring each home, write down what you liked and didn't like. Develop a rating system which will help you narrow the field down to the house that's the best for you.
Buying a home can be a particularly stressful and trying experience, but it will be much smoother for consumers who relax and take their time during the search for a house.
One of the key issues that will arise during the whole process involves knowing exactly how much to pay for a property. To prepare, house-hunters should take careful notes on each property's marketing data such as selling
price, price changes, length of time the home has been on the market and a difference in list and sale price. This will enable the potential buyer to get a better feel for what is a good deal and what is not.
Although looking at a number of houses is a good idea, buyers should be ready to seize the perfect home when they see it – even if it is just the first or second one that they encounter. For buyers who have their doubts, however, revisiting the property several times can ease the jitters, as can a thorough and professional inspection of the entire property.
In addition, making the transaction contingent upon a property appraisal that matches the purchase price can greatly help buyers avoid paying too much for a home. Home-seekers should also keep in close contact with their agent, as this will also make the process less stressful.
Finally, buyers should have high expectations at the start, but be ready to make compromises eventually. There is no such thing as the "perfect home." However, with a little give and take, buyers should be able to find a house that comes close to meeting all of their needs and desires.
Resources for Sellers
20 Tips For Selling Your Home
As a homeowner, you can play an important part in the timely sale of your property. When you take the following steps, you'll help your RE/MAX Sales Agent sell your home faster, at the best possible price.
1. Make the Most of that First Impression - A well-manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs and a clutter-free porch welcome prospects. So does a freshly painted, or at least freshly scrubbed, front door. If it's autumn, rake the leaves. If it's winter, shovel the walkways. The fewer obstacles between prospects and the true appeal of your home, the better.
2. Invest a Few Hours for Future Dividends - Here's your chance to clean up
in real estate. Clean up in the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen. If your woodwork is scuffed or the paint is fading, consider some minor redecoration. Fresh wallpaper adds charm and value to your property. Prospects would rather see how great your home really looks than hear how great it could look, "with a little work."
3. Check Faucets and Bulbs - Dripping water rattles the nerves, discolors sinks and suggests faulty or worn-out plumbing. Burned out bulbs leave prospects in the dark. Don't let little problems detract from what's right with your home.
4. Don't Shut Out a Sale - If cabinets or closet doors stick in your home, you can be sure they will also stick in a prospect's mind. Don't try to explain away sticky situations when you can easily plane them away. A little effort on your part can smooth the way toward a closing.
5. Think Safety - Homeowners learn to live with all kinds of self-set booby traps: roller skates on the stairs, festooned extension cords, slippery throw rugs and low hanging overhead lights. Make your residence as non-perilous as possible for uninitiated visitors.
6. Make Room for Space - Remember, potential buyers are looking for more than just comfortable living space. They're looking for storage space, too. Make sure your attic and basement are clean and free of unnecessary items.
7. Consider Your Closets - The better organized a closet, the larger it appears. Now's the time to box up those unwanted clothes and donate them to charity.
8. Make Your Bathrooms Sparkle - Bathrooms sell homes, so let them shine. Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking in the tubs and showers. For added allure, display your best towels, mats and shower curtains.
9. Create Dream Bedrooms - Wake up prospects to the cozy comforts of your bedrooms. For a spacious look, get rid of excess furniture. Colorful bedspreads and fresh curtains are a must.
10. Open up in the Daytime - Let the sun shine in! Pull back your curtains and drapes so prospects can see how bright and cheery your home is.
11. Lighten up at Night - Turn on the excitement by turning on all your lights, both inside and outside, when showing your home in the evening. Lights add color and warmth, and make prospects feel welcome.
12. Avoid Crowd Scenes - Potential buyers often feel like intruders when they enter a home filled with people. Rather than giving your house the attention it deserves, they're likely to hurry through. Keep the company present to a minimum.
13. Watch Your Pets - Dogs and cats are great companions, but not when you're showing your home. Pets have a talent for getting underfoot. So do everybody a favor: Keep Kitty and Spot outside, or at least out of the way.
14. Think Volume - Rock-and-roll will never die. But it might kill a real estate transaction. When it's time to show your home, it's time to turn down the stereo or TV.
15. Relax - Be friendly, but don't try to force con- versation. Prospects want to view your home with a minimum of distraction.
16. Don't Apologize - No matter how humble your abode, never apologize for its short- comings. If a prospect volunteers a derogatory comment about your home's appearance, let your experienced RE/MAX Agent handle the situation.
17. Keep a Low Profile - Nobody knows your home as well as you do. But RE/MAX Sales Agents know buyers - what they need and what they want. Your RE/MAX Agent will have an easier time articulating the virtues of your home if you stay in the background.
18. Don't Turn Your Home into a Second-Hand Store - When prospects come to view your home, don't distract them with offers to sell those furnishings you no longer need. You may lose the biggest sale of all.
19. Defer to Experience - When prospects want to talk price, terms, or other real estate matters, let them speak to an expert - your RE/MAX Sales Agent.
20. Help Your Agent - Your RE/MAX Agent will have an easier time selling your home if showings are scheduled through his or her office. You'll appreciate the results!
Are you interested in putting your home on the market, but wonder what repairs and touch ups to do? And then there's bankrolling the work, not to mention sacrificing weekends to get it done.
Slow down. Get a grip. There are some no cost/low cost ways to get your home in showing shape and help you put your best foot, er... house, forward to prospective buyers.
When real estate agents and buyers refer to curb appeal,
it means the initial impact the home makes when the buy- er first views it. Visualize a buyer driving up to your curb. What would he see? Landscaping in need of work? A fence in need of paint? If the outside of the house is in shambles, a buyer may not be motivated to get out of
the car and come inside!
So what things are important to fix-up and replace before you sell? Let's cover them as the buyer sees them, from the outside, in.
Walk across the street from your home and pretend you're a buyer, viewing
the home for the first time. From the parking area, glance around the front yard. Note hedges and trees that need to be trimmed. Are they cut back away from the front door, the windows, and the porch area? This is not only for aesthetics but for safety reasons as well (a big priority with buyers today.) A safe home is one that has a clear view of the parking area and walk ways, free of obstructions and overgrown foliage.
What about paint trim near the front door and on the eaves? Could it use a new coat? Make sure your front door is in good repair, too - including the screen door, if applicable. Buyers' impressions as they enter the home set the stage for the rest of the showing.
Let's go inside the house. The cardinal rule before putting your home on the market is making sure it's clean. In a competitive sales market, why would an eager buyer waste time viewing
a house that needed elbow grease? And a less than spic and span house could also signal
that other maintenance in the house hasn't been kept up - like plumbing that leaks and furnace systems in need of cleaning or repair. Don't forget that a house that doesn't show well will often take longer to sell, costing you money in the long run.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling a home is listing it at the correct price. It's one of several areas where the assistance of a skilled real estate agent can more than pay for itself.
Too high can be as bad as too low
If the listing price is too high, you'll miss out on a percentage of buyers looking in the price range where your home should be. This is the flaw in thinking that you'll always have the opportunity to accept a lower offer. Chances are the offers won't even come in, because the buyers who would be most interested in your home have been scared off by the price and aren't even taking the time to look. By the time the price is corrected, you've already lost exposure to a large group of potential buyers.
The listing price becomes even trickier to set when prices are quickly rising or falling. It's critical to be aware of where and how fast the market is moving - both when setting the price and when negotiating an offer. Again, an experienced, well-trained agent is always in touch with market trends - often even to a greater extent than appraisers, who typically focus on what a property is worth if sold as-is, right now.
Agent education, experience critical
When working with a real estate agent, it's critical that you have full confidence in that agent's experience and education. A skilled, knowledgeable agent should be able to explain to you exactly why your home needs to be priced at a certain level - compared to recent listings and sales of homes similar to yours.
Experienced agents also know exactly what the current pool of buyers are looking for in relation to particular styles and price ranges of properties. A skilled agent can recommend changes that will enhance the salability of your home, thus increasing the price - and/or decreasing the length of time before a sale.
It's critical to keep all these aspects of pricing in mind, regardless of whom you choose to list your home.