Cheryl Phelan's Blog
Many home buyers approach house hunting from the same angle as an employer searching for the ideal job candidate. It's almost like they have a split personality. On one hand, they're hoping that each prospect will be the one they ultimately choose. On the other hand, they're also looking for flaws and weaknesses -- reasons not to choose the house (or the job candidate) they're considering.
The solution to that dilemma for home sellers is simple... but not necessarily easy! Follow the advice of songwriter Johnny Mercer, who penned the lyrics to the 1944 hit song "Accentuate the Positive" (eliminate the negative)! Presenting your home in its best light to potential buyers not only helps attract more offers, but it also increases your chances of receiving your asking price -- assuming it's based on hard facts, such as recent sales data of other comparable homes in the neighborhood.
Getting It Right The First Time
An experienced real estate agent can be immensely helpful in determining a realistic listing price that will reflect your home's fair market value without being too high. (The last thing you want is for the price to scare away qualified prospects!) Although it's not an exact science, there is a methodology that helps make sure the listing price is reasonable and in the right ball park.
There are several challenges that homeowners face in staging their home for quick sale and determining the best price for all parties involved. In addition to the potential pitfall of allowing one's emotions to inflate a home's asking price, it's also difficult for the owner to view their home through the eyes of potential buyers. That's why professional advice can often make the difference between success and failure in real estate sales.
Being able to identify cost-effective ways to enhance the curb appeal and overall marketability of a house for sale can be difficult for someone who doesn't do it on a daily basis. A real estate professional with a trained eye can zero in on necessary changes, repairs, and cosmetic improvements that can accentuate the positive and eliminate -- or at least, downplay -- the negative!
If it's been a few years since your house or rooms have received a fresh coat of paint, then that might be one of the first improvements a real estate agent or home staging consultant recommends. To "cast as wide of a net" as possible, neutral paint colors typically have the broadest appeal to prospective home buyers. Fresh flowers -- both in hanging baskets and vases -- are an inexpensive way to add some color and appealing touches to the look and feel of your home. Doing your best to get rid of clutter, weeds, and objectionable odors in and around your home are other basic steps you can take to make a positive impression on potential buyers.
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!" That saying (and old song) has been around for generations, but it's as true today as it was a century ago. Almost everyone would agree that your home should be a refuge from the calamity and dangers of the outside world.
A related saying which has been repeated for even longer is "A man's home is his castle." That age-old concept not only emphasizes that fact that we all deserve to be safe and secure in our own homes, but it's also the basis for certain legal principles. Unfortunately, the mere existence of our rights as homeowners does not prevent burglaries, break-ins, and criminal intrusions from happening, so it's necessary to take steps to help protect your home and family from crime.
The good news is that there are literally dozens of things you can do to make your home a safer, more secure place. While it can be costly (but often worth it) to implement an elaborate, high-tech home security system, there are plenty of inexpensive measures you can take to discourage burglars. Here are a few crime-prevention tactics which can greatly reduce the chances of a break-in or intrusion taking place at your home.
Be security minded: If you live in a low-crime area, it's easy to let your guard down and become complacent. When it comes to keeping your property, family, and possessions secure, though, it's much better to "err on the side of caution." One regrettable mistake many people make is to leave their doors unlocked when they go out to "run a few quick errands." Not only can errands take longer than originally planned, but experienced burglars can be in and out of your home in minutes. By being consistent with locking doors and securing your home before you leave, you'll significantly reduce the chances of becoming a crime statistic. Instilling that awareness and those habits in your children is also an important element of any effective home security strategy.
Simple security solutions: Although glass panels alongside a front door can be an attractive design touch, it can provide potential intruders with a glimpse of the inside of your home -- including its layout, a view of valuables left out in the open, and whether your security system is activated. There are several ways you can obscure the view people have of your home's interior, including frosting the glass using a special spray, temporarily attaching a decorative window film, or installing etched glass. Customized window blinds may also do the trick.
Innovative ideas: Burglars generally tend to target homes that appear vacant or unsecured. Half the battle is creating the impression that someone is home, even if you're not. While you've undoubtedly heard about the technique of hooking up timers to your lights to make them go on and off at designated times, here's an interesting variation on the theme: You can purchase a device for $20 or $30 that simulates the flickering light that a TV gives off when it's being watched. While this is not a standalone or foolproof technique, it can be a low-cost part of an overall home security strategy.
A home-buying wish list may sound like a cathartic way to imagine a dream home that's dripping with luxury everywhere you turn, but it's really a practical way to help homeowners narrow down their options. When buyers look at too many homes, they may find that each property starts to run together. Use this tool as a means of viewing just a few homes that will meet all of your criteria.
Questions to Ask
Wish lists start with the answers to the following questions:
- Would you be willing to purchase a home that's more than 10 years old? More than 70?
- Do you need to live near a bus or subway line?
- Can children be driven to school or will they need to walk?
- How much effort are you willing to put into repairs and renovations?
- Do you need a formal dining area or can a table be placed in the kitchen?
- Will you need to prepare for the home for those with physical disabilities?
If you're planning to host your elderly parents at some point, you may need to look for a one-story ranch for maximum accessibility. Similarly, if you're planning to have children, you may want to buy a home with carpeting to provide extra traction for unsteady feet. While a lender will have the ultimate say in how much you can afford, you have plenty of control over the home you choose within your budget.
As buyers sketch out their wish list, they should separate it into the absolute deal-breakers. For example, you may prefer a full two bathrooms but you'll settle for one full plus a half bathroom. Consider how large of a yard you want, the ideal type of HVAC system, and the type of home that will work best for you Some people prefer smaller homes so they can cut back on the amount of cleaning and maintenance they have to perform.
Room for Flexibility
If there aren't many homes that are meeting your minimum criteria, be prepared to be a little flexible along the way. You can always install carpeting or central air if you absolutely need to. You may also need to compromise on the age of the home, which is highly encouraged as long as the home passes inspection.
A wish list doesn't have to be the defining document for a home, but it can keep you from seeing homes that are absolutely not right for you. The more you can streamline your home buying journey, the less stressful the transition will be.
Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases that you’ll ever make in your lifetime. You’ll spend decades of your life making mortgage payments to pay off your home loan. Buying a home is more than just simply finding a place to live. It’s also a financial decision. Your home helps you to build equity, gives you tax deductions, and helps you to have some security in your financial future.
One of the biggest questions that you’ll have when you buy a home is “How much can I spend?” To answer this question, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.
Do You Have Money For A Down Payment?
The standard amount of money that you’ll need for a down payment is 20 percent of the purchase price of a home. If you don’t have the money for a full down payment, you’ll need to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This could add up to be an extra cost of hundreds of dollars per month in additional insurance payments on top of your mortgage and every other kind of expense that goes along with buying a home. You’ll need to take the time to save up for a down payment if you’re a first time homebuyer. If you already own a home, the equity that you have in that home can help you with the down payment.
What Are Your Other Financial Responsibilities?
There’s more to buying a home than just the monthly mortgage payment. You’ll need to get insurance, pay taxes, and have some money set aside for repair and decorating costs. You’ll need to look at your monthly income to find out just how much you can afford on a home. You should take an honest look at your lifestyle and existing expenses in order to determine a comfortable monthly mortgage payment for you.
Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score will be a major factor in how much house you’ll be able to afford. Your lender will use your credit score and credit history to help determine what type of interest rate you’ll get and how much they’re willing to lend you in order to buy a home.
Understanding what you can afford for a home purchase is crucial before you even start shopping. It’s a good idea to meet with a lender to get pre-qualified. This is different than getting pre-approved. Your lender will give you a general idea of how much you can spend on a home without digging too deep into your finances. Getting pre-qualified is a great place to start when you’re looking at the numbers of being a homeowner.