When you've got to buy a house from across the country, start
with a winning strategy.
a house locally is not without its difficulties. Add hundreds or even thousands
of miles to the equation, and it becomes infinitely more complicated.
long-distance house hunting has its unique challenges, it’s not impossible. In
fact, with the right agent and the convenience of modern technology, it’s never
been easier to buy a house remotely.
are a few critical factors to keep in mind when you find yourself in a
home search from afar.
it comes to long-distance home shopping, “the Internet is your friend,”
remarks Meghann Shike of Synergy Realty in Nashville. “You know the
neighborhoods you live around, but you know nothing about your new one. You don’t know where the mall
is, the [grocery store], or the schools.”
nothing can substitute checking out the neighborhood in person, Shike
recommends looking up commute times to work, crime rates in the area, and, most
importantly, how the schools rank. Even if you don’t have children or don’t
plan to have children, it’s still good to know the quality of the schools
for resale purposes.
of the biggest pieces of the long-distance house-hunting puzzle, however, is to
make sure you’re researching who the best local real estate
agents are. It’s always crucial to hire an agent you trust, but
with a long-distance search the agent can make or break the experience.
going to want someone local on the ground — someone who is very familiar
with the city, neighborhood, and prices,” Shike says. “You need to get a
feel for how that person operates. Are they available to talk to you? You’re
going to have more questions than you realize, and your agent is going to
need to be there to answer them.”
Kyle and Samantha Steele found out they were going to be moving from Oklahoma
City to Columbus, OH for Kyle’s new job, the couple looked at listings
online, got in touch with real estate agents, and picked an upcoming weekend to
house hunt in person.
Steeles’ agent showed them multiple houses, but nothing was quite right. Then
they found out that many of the older neighborhoods in the area didn’t have
great access to high-speed Internet. That’s when they decided to build.
agent was instrumental in guiding them on their short house-hunting
weekend, and in finding a builder. “[Our agent] basically helped us with
everything, every step of the way,” Kyle states. “When we couldn’t find
anything, she helped us find model homes in the area we’re building in, and
showed us three different model homes. She answered questions, and helped us
find the building company. She even helped us find a hotel for the
appointments came up during the building process that required one of the
Steeles to be present. “We had to make an appointment to meet with the
design studio to pick out the floors and the carpet,” Samantha remarks. “So
far, I’ve been to Ohio twice.”
couple advises long-distance house hunters to prepare and plan ahead,
especially for last-minute travel. “Be flexible,” Kyle says. “Make sure you
have a few thousand dollars in reserve that you can spend on plane tickets and
a hotel — because you will have to go back and forth.”
the agent perspective, Shike recommends planning a house-hunting trip
that’s at least four to five days long, so you’re not cramming in tons of
showings that you won’t remember at the end of the day.
you’re in the market for a home, you should always have a running list of
features you want, but it’s especially crucial when you’re buying from a
like to tell my clients to do a ‘top five.'” Shike says. “What’s your
non-negotiable? Is it being able to step out the front door to walk
your dogs? Do you want to walk your kids to school?”
exactly what you want out of a house and location allows your agent to
help you narrow down neighborhoods and homes more easily, and assist you in making
an offer quickly, which is especially important in a fast-moving market.
need to get over the fear of writing an offer when they haven’t seen the house
in person,” remarks Shike. “I can video chat our way through the house, but I
can’t get you on a plane [to get here] in the same time the local people can
who are shopping.”
those buyers who are nervous about making an offer sight unseen, Shike says
there is the possibility of adding a clause in the contract that the sale is
contingent on the buyer seeing it.
course, there is also always the option of renting first before you take the
plunge. “You could rent for the short term or get a six-month lease, which is
enough time to get settled in your job or routine,” recommends Shike. “That can
be nice for buyers who are a little more anxious about the process — to relieve that anxiety.”
buying a house from a distance shouldn’t necessarily be looked at as a negative
experience. In fact, Shike believes it can give many shoppers new
opportunities, and buyers are often more excited when purchasing long distance.
can be a nice change of pace for people,” Shike adds. “Another benefit to
moving long distance is a fresh start: a new neighborhood, new culture, new
people, and new experiences everywhere.”
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Get maximum improvement for minimum cash with
these tips for transforming your home’s exterior.
A polished home exterior makes for an inviting experience for
any visitor or passersby, which is especially important if your home is on the market.
All sellers should focus on exterior home improvements, says
Tallahassee-based realtor Joe Manausa of Joe
Manausa Real Estate. “Buyers are searching for homes online,
and the exterior picture of your home will be the most likely culprit for
somebody to reject your home,” he notes.
Check out our tips to get the most curb appeal for
the lowest cost — while turning your neighbors’ heads and getting prospective
buyers to your door.
Sometimes the most obvious way to enhance curb appeal is simply
dedicating a weekend to deep cleaning the exterior of your home.
Photo from Shutterstock.
Sure, you’ll want to trim bushes, sweep, and mow your lawn, but
there’s so much more to curb appeal than keeping a tidy front yard. Turn the
nozzle on your garden hose to the strongest setting and clean off your
driveway, sidewalk, windows, and fence.
If dirt and grime is really caked on your home’s exterior, you
can rent a power washer for around $50 to $75 a day — but steer clear
of any area with caulking, like windows and doors, as you can strip some
of the sealing. And as tempting as it may be to power wash your roof, you may
want to hold off to avoid damaging the shingles’ coating.
Spraying off your windows with a garden hose isn’t enough to
make them spic and span, however. For maximum sparkle, clean your windows
outside and inside. Instead of relying on a glass cleaner, try a mix of
detergent diluted in warm water.
Photo from Zillow listing.
An easy way to accentuate the size of your windows is to add
shutters. Not only does it make your windows look larger, but it adds visual
interest by disrupting a bland exterior wall. Choose a color that contrasts
with the color of your home to make it pop for maximum curb appeal.
Paint accent areas
Paint is a quick and easy curb appeal-booster. Instead of
painting the entire exterior of your home, focus your attention on the trim,
door, and shutters.
You can typically find a gallon of exterior paint for $20
to $30 a gallon. But before slapping on that paint, consider exterior color
scheme trends, while keeping in mind your home’s natural style.
Give your door a face lift
If you’re not in love with your front door, you don’t need to
dish out loads of money to replace it. Think beyond paint and consider also
adding molding, which offers a decorative frame for your door, welcoming
visitors while serving as a grand entrance.
You can also glam up your door by adding metal house numbers,
which you can find for as low as $5 a number. Manausa also suggests adding a
wreath or seasonal decorations to your door as a bonus.
Replace your house numbers
If you’d rather not add house numbers to your freshly
painted door, here are some alternative DIY ideas:
Update your light fixtures
Replacing your exterior light fixtures is another curb appeal
must. You can usually find outdoor sconces for around $20 at home centers. Just
make sure your new light fixtures have the same mounting system. And if you
want to save on lighting, a fresh finish can do wonders. Try spray-painting
them — a can of spray paint costs around $10.
Be deliberate about porch furniture
Manausa advises homeowners to limit their use of personal decor
and furniture. Just as you would aim to simplify the interior of your home when
your house is on the market, the exterior of your home should allow prospective
buyers to envision their style in the space.
Posted in:Education and tagged: Real EstateUpgradingHomeownerRenovationHome Improvements
What Is a Short Sale?
When you owe more on your home than it’s worth
and you need to sell, the transaction in which you will sell your property is
called a short sale. You need your lender’s approval to do a short sale because
they’ll be accepting less than they’re owed at closing. There are many reasons
homeowners opt for a short sale, but one of the most common is to avoid going
If you’re a buyer, a short sale can enable you
to buy a property at a discount because the seller is distressed and has fewer
options. But you’ll need to be patient because buying a property in a short
sale may take some time. Let’s review more details about how short sales work
for sellers and buyers.
How Do Short Sales
Work for Sellers?
Short sales are an option for
homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage to sell their property,
and to avoid going into foreclosure. For many distressed homeowners, short
sales are an alternative to foreclosure. Here are the steps sellers need to
take in order to sell their properties in short sales:
Happens After Closing for the Seller
Typically, your credit score will drop by 75
to 200 points after selling your property in a short sale, which is less severe
than a foreclosure. (Experts estimate that a foreclosure will lead to a dip in
your credit score of about 200 or 300 points). Lenders often won’t consider a
short sale approval for your property until you’re two to three months behind
on your payments. This means your credit score drop will be at the higher end
of the range if this is the case. The rest of the drop will depend on whether
the lender reports the short sale as “settled” debt or “paid” debt. You should
try to negotiate for the latter, but the former is more common, and hits your
credit score harder.
The short sale will stay on your credit report
for seven years, but you can finance a new home purchase within one to four
years of a short sale depending on credit score, loan type and down payment.
Again, a foreclosure is even more severe. With a foreclosure, that time ranges
from three to seven years. Ask your lender to advise on options. Prior to the
housing crisis, the lender’s loss was taxed as income for the seller, but now
short sellers have no tax liability.
How Do Short Sales
Work for Buyers?
Buying a short sale property can allow buyers
to purchase a home at a discount, but the downside is that the transaction can
take significantly longer than the sale of a property that is not a short sale.
Here are the steps a buyer needs to take in order to purchase
a property in a short sale:
in Your Rate
Locking in a rate for a short sale property
can be tricky. The short seller’s lender will often require that you make a
loan application with them to ensure you’re qualified, but that lender cannot
require you to use them. Most rate locks are only for 30 to 60 days, but the
seller’s lender can take months to review and approve your offer. As such, you
won’t be able to lock your rate right away, so ask your lender to brief you on
the rate outlook and what it might mean for your final terms and costs.
waiting to lock, you’ll need to advance the loan process for purchasing the
property. Appraise and inspect the property as your lender requires, because
the seller’s lender may also require these reports. And of course, you’ll need
to be patient. Taking these steps ensures that when the seller’s lender has
finally approved the short sale, your loan will be mostly done and you’ll be
able to close quickly. Short sales are known for taking more time than usual to
complete, so it’s a good idea to do everything you can on your end. Your
lender and real estate agent should be very familiar with short sales, and they
can help you understand all the steps you need to take for the short sale
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2018 is going to be your home's cleanest, most organized year
an easy way to get on top of your home maintenance checklist in the new year:
Take it one small chunk at a time!
steps add up to big results. And if you dedicate some time to home maintenance
— two hours a week, an afternoon per month and a couple of days a year — your
home will remain in tiptop shape this year.
our easy-to-follow checklist:
weekly home maintenance ritual will be largely determined by the features of
your home, but may include some of the following tasks:
are the projects we all know we should do regularly but often don’t get
to. Just pick an afternoon, and go for it!
these tasks in a way that makes sense to you. You can do them on a seasonal
basis or just schedule one or two days per year to knock everything out.
are some bigger tasks to take on once a year:
following this easy checklist, you can have a wonderfully maintained home with
a minimal investment of time and energy.
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Buyers who aren't paying cash for a house aren't necessarily out
of luck. Here's how you can gain an edge over cash buyers.
making a cash offer on a house are active in many markets, and they can strike
fear in new buyers who are bidding on a home. Cash home buyers can perform and
close quickly and provide sellers with a sense of comfort.
does this mean a solid buyer putting down 20 percent or more shouldn’t attempt
to compete with cash home buyers? Absolutely not.
truth is, a buyer getting a mortgage can still compete against cash home buyers
are the questions that can make the difference:
you answered yes to most or all of these questions, your purchase should be as
bulletproof as a cash home buyer’s.
cash for a house doesn’t guarantee a buyer will win over the seller.
Well-qualified buyers who put in a little extra effort can seal the deal.
the best you can and be realistic. Make sure your financial “‘house” is in
order. Work with a good local real estate agent, and start
working with a local mortgage professional well in
advance. Structure your offer to show that you’re ready to roll.
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article click here
Once you decide that this
Spring you want to buy a new home — or your first house — the question
is, "Where do we start?"
The answer lies in two sets of
#1. Start With Success: Begin by deciding what
success means to you. Clarify what you really want and why, not just what's
"in" right now. Explore this practical side before viewing
properties. What matters is not the number of homes you see, but zeroing in on
genuine good matches. For instance, a couple who wanted to add a
mortgage-paying basement suite to their next home, decided to search for houses
with an existing basement bathroom since this would be the most expensive part
of creating a rental unit.
#2. Who's "We"?: The
other essential to a good start is to decide who "we" is going to be:
Will friends or family come along to share their construction or
real estate ownership expertise?
Will you have a contractor on-call to provide renovation-cost
estimates to back up your offer price?
Who will you select as your local real estate professional to be
sure you see all the best matches without being dragged through definite
"nos." For instance, a condominium specialist may not be the best
match if you are intent on a detached house with rental suite potential. How
much do you need to learn about real estate before you will be comfortable when
it's time to sign on the dotted line? If you have a steep learning curve,
you'll benefit from a real estate profession who is well equipped to inform as
well as provide access to the best-fit real estate. Then there's the
professional negotiation skills you'll want to tap into.
If you want to buy this Spring, when should you start?: How
quickly you can find a home to buy and move into it depends on many factors:
The transition from searching for an ideal property to moving in
can be condensed into a few weeks. This is often the pace for corporate
relocation. Frenzied decision-making may not generate the best long-term
results unless you are ultra-prepared and an experienced real estate buyer.
At the other extreme, stretching the search for that
"perfect forever home" over many seasons or even years may work for
those who want a specific location or type of property and are not displeased
enough with their current home to accelerate the process.
Somewhere in between those
extremes lies your ideal time line:
Buying within a market cycle, enables your real estate
professional to identify specific properties that present the best return in
that buyers', sellers', or flat market.
If you have a busy work and personal life, carving out time to
consider listings, view properties, explore neighborhoods, investigate
financing, and deal with all related details can be a stressful juggling act.
Your priorities coupled with how quickly new listings sell will determine how
you prioritize your home search. Consider how well you make major decisions
when under stress.
When the goal is to enroll children at the start of school year
or to arrive at a new job on time, back calculating with your real estate
professional will reveal when the search should begin. When in doubt, start
sooner, so you don't end up faced with time-pressured decisions.
Hot real estate markets are the hardest to plan timing in. You
may be eager to purchase, but lose out on property after property in multiple
offers. Decide what your worst-case scenario would be and act accordingly.
Waiting for your local real estate market to change gears so
prices drop is risky. Timing the real estate market is no easier than timing
the stock market. The best advantage in any market lies in selecting
ighly-knowledgeable, experienced professionals fully committed to working with
your best interests as their top priority.
You may not be 100% certain this is the Spring for you to plunge
into the market, but if you're more sure than not sure, invest time finding the
right professionals. If the timing is not right for you, that will become
evident and you'll discover what your options are and why.
estate professionals, committed to understanding market pace in areas they
work, can help you manage timing. One thing they may suggest, is not to wait
for the Spring Market, but to get ahead of the mass of spring buyers and jump
into real estate now. For instance, sellers who are listed now are serious
about selling and, depending how long their property has been on the market,
they may be more receptive to negotiation.
you decide to wait until Spring or jump in now, here are Five Savvy Buying Tips that ensure
you'll get the best property for your needs, at the best price, with the
minimum amount of hassle and disappointment:
#1. Apply Smart Buying Rules: If
you consider yourself a smart buyer when purchasing a car, a phone, or travel,
apply that savvy to buying real estate. Understand what you need and why. Set a
realistic budget. Learn how things work. With all these issues, the right
professional should save you time, stress, and money.
#2. Ensure Location Overrules
Features & Decor: Real estate is an immoveable object. That reality dictates
that where you buy is the prime value concern. Smart buyers look for the least
property in the best area, so their real estate improvements result in
increased market value. Values within a neighborhood or community are not
uniform. There are specific streets, even ends of streets, that represent the
highest local value just as boundary streets and other locations may represent
lower prices. Particularly in urban areas, proximity to the most
highly-regarded schools, popular shopping areas, and sought-after local
features like parks dictates price, as your real estate professional will
#3. Maximize Move-In Timing: The
more flexible your move-in date, the more room to negotiate with sellers. Agree
to their ideal move date and that may generate concessions in price or
inclusions. When you have a fixed move-in date, you may find yourself paying
more to buy what you want, when you want it. Timing is a significant
consideration when deciding whether to buy your next home before you have sold
your current property, that is, taking the risk of paying on two mortgages at
once. Since the market where you are selling may be different from that where
you want to buy, timing decisions should involve the experience of a real
estate professional or two.
#4. Own The Money Factor:
Affordability encompasses costs ranging from purchase price (including legal
fees and other costs), mortgage financing, and the cost of customizing the
living space to including ongoing expenses like heating, cooling, commuting,
and anything else that matters. With mortgage rates on the rise, reducing
consumer (car) loans and credit card debt may open up borrowing room. Mortgage professionals can help you shop
a wider range of lenders. These money experts can also explain why there is so
much more to consider than just interest rate.
#5. Face Reality Head On:
Compromises to your "must have" list can maximize value and returns.
You may want four bedrooms, but if two younger children share a
large room until the eldest child goes to college, maybe that 3-bedroom with
significantly-better location and greater appreciation potential will really
work for your family.
If cosmetic or minor renovations don't daunt you, this could
also provide a location advantage and may even mean a larger home is
Compromising on location can also mean more living space, just
be sure that commuting costs, including needing an extra car and possible lower
appreciation rates, don't swallow up that saving.
Your buying perspective is also an important consideration. Do
you expect to stay until a second child appears or until all the kids finish
school or are you in for the long haul? Shopping for a "forever home"
is a popular approach. Just take care that projections are fact based and not
fantasy that leaves you buying more home than you can comfortably afford in a
rising interest-rate world.
people have more real estate choices than they realize. Are you sure you want
to wait for Spring to get started?
If you dread the
negotiating process when buying a home, never fear. Your real estate agent is
an experienced negotiator who helps keep the bargaining from becoming emotional
and veering off track.
Your agent must know your
desires by heart and have quick access to you if a negotiation point needs to
be made. It's important to stick to the strategy you and your agent have agreed
upon -- showing the seller how strong your offer is.
First, get preapproved
for a mortgage loan. That means your mortgage lender has reviewed your credit
history and assets, checked employment and income, examined your debt-to-income
ratios, and has preapproved you for a certain amount, terms and interest rate
so you know exactly how much you can spend.
Being preapproved shows
sellers that you are prepared and able to buy. Before you submit an offer, ask
your agent to find out more what the seller wants as far as terms. The more
your offer matches up with the seller's requests, such as a closing date, the
more likely your offer will be accepted.
Find out when the house
will be vacated, if any repairs or improvements are planned, and if the seller
has any pressure points such as a relocation deadline. Also, you'll want to
review the seller's disclosure of the condition of the property.
Your agent must also find
out if other offers are on the table. Your position is stronger if there are no
other offers. The seller may be less likely to bend on price concessions or
repairs if there are other offers.
Have your agent pull up
the most recent CMA (comparable homes recently sold or on the market) within a
reasonable radius of the home, so you can sculpt your offer price. Be sure that
you are comparing apples to apples in terms of updates, size of the home,
amenities, location, schools districts, etc.
Once these steps are
made, you are ready to write an offer.
Making the offer
Make yourself think like
the seller. It helps you anticipate what the seller will accept in price,
terms, and other conditions. By considering the seller's position, you will
likely create an offer that is either accepted or strongly considered.
Your offer should be
clear on the terms, closing dates, repair requests or other conditions the
seller needs to meet and it should be accompanied by a letter from your lender
that you are preapproved to buy the seller's home. Include a cover letter
summarizing your strengths as a buyer in terms of creditworthiness, flexibility
in closing, and the strength of the offer.
Don't insult the seller
with an offer that's too low or requires too many concessions. The seller may
be nostalgic about his or her life in the house and may not like the idea that
you want to remodel.
The only thing a seller
can't argue with is a strong set of comparables that show the home is
overpriced or out of date. These are homes that have sold that are nearby
(within two blocks) and similar in age, size and features. If you can show that
a similar home has sold within the last two months for less than the seller is
asking, that's good.
Be sure all conditions,
repairs, etc. are agreed to in writing. Some sellers may feel that a handshake
covers a promise, but it's essential to be clear on paper what is expected and
when. A seller's promise to paint should be included as an addendum to the
contract and include all details, such as primer, exact color and type of
paint, how many coats, and when the work will be finished for inspection.
The offer is negotiated
and accepted, the earnest money is at the escrow agent's office. Now the
inspections occur, and this is where the contract negotiations can break down.
No home is perfect, not
even brand-new construction. During the inspection process, the inspector is
usually required to tell you about any condition of appliances, heating and
cooling systems, roofs, electrical and plumbing systems, etc, and if your
future home is up to current city codes.
Sellers are usually not
required to bring a house completely up to current local building codes.
Negotiate a repair only when a system is unsafe or a major repair is needed to
make the system operate effectively.
As long as the seller has
a reasonable explanation of what your position is and why, and communication
remains open, the seller should have as much desire to make the contract work
as you do.
you’re in the market for a new home or selling the one you own now, chances are
you’ll want a real estate
agent to help you navigate the process.
Listing agents help
you market and sell your home, while selling agents help
you find and buy one. And while their titles might sound similar, their roles
in the transaction are quite different.
you’re serious about buying or selling a home, it’s a good idea to familiarize
yourself with the role each type of agent plays, and the advantages of having
one in your corner.
is a listing agent?
listing agent represents the seller in a real estate sale. Their job is to set a
competitive price for the home and then bring in potential
buyers to see it. While it’s certainly possible to sell a house yourself, working
with a listing agent gives you access to their knowledge of the local housing
market. They have the most current and detailed information on the sales of
comparable properties in your neighborhood, which allows them to price your
you’ve set a price, listing agents actively market the property. They’ll help
stage and style the home to present it in its best light, and even will hire
professional photographers to take high quality pictures of your home looking
its best. Listing agents not only show the home and hold open houses, but they
help evaluate potential buyers to, ensuring that you, their client, receive
only serious offers.
for a great mortgage rate? Check out these mortgage offers.
an offer is received, the listing agent walks the seller through the
negotiations, helping handle any paperwork and ultimately closing on the sale.
For those services, listing agents typically charge around a 6 percent
commission on the sale price, which is typically shared with the selling agent.
is a selling agent
selling agent represents the
buyer in a home sale. That might sound confusing, but there’s
logic behind that terminology. Prior to a contract being signed, the agent
representing the buyer is often called the buyer’s agent. After the
two parties agree to terms and the house is under contract, the buyer’s agent
is then referred to as a selling agent. Why? Because they produced a buyer who
purchased the home. The titles selling agent and buyer’s agent are typically
used interchangeably and their duties are the same.
you know how much house you can afford? Find out with our mortgage
selling agent identifies properties their clients might be interested in
purchasing; contacts the listing agent to set up showings; presents the sellers
with offers from their clients; and guides them through closing once an offer
is accepted. These services are typically paid for out of the commission paid
by the people selling the home.
you really need one (or the other?)
internet has changed the way people shop for homes. In fact, half of the homes purchased in 2016 were found online.
Still, 88 percent of buyers use representation to manage the transaction and
another 90 percent of sellers use a listing agent.
can certainly put up a “for sale” sign or go house hunting on your own, but you
might consider enlisting the help of a professional. In some cases, it might be
a necessary: some listing agents will only accept offers from a buyer’s
representative. Those agents feel they can’t fairly represent the interests of
both parties involved.
Holding an open house for
your soon-to-be-listed or newly on the market home is a lot like being on a
game show where edging out the other contestants in a short period of time is
key. In TV game shows, such as "Jeopardy," the contestants don’t
automatically know answers to so many trivia questions; they study and they
plan and they make it appear to viewers like they walk around with that body of
knowledge every day. Open houses need to be thought of similarly. Once your
home is on the market, an open house is your opportunity to plan and strategize
how you are going to win over buyers in very short time.
Even in a strong real
estate market where houses sell quickly, it’s still important to ask your agent
to hold as many open houses as possible until the home sells. One reason is
that even buyers with agents still like to look at homes on their own without
feeling the pressure of a home tour. Sometimes their agent is out of town when
your house goes on the market. Many buyers are not represented by an agent and
the only way for them to tour a home is through an open house. Your agent will
plan the open house to include everything from signage to freshly baked
cookies. As a seller, you should take the following steps:
Back to the game show
analogy, think of depersonalizing as studying the answers and questions before
trying out for "Jeopardy." Your house is lovely for how you live in
it, but buyers don’t want to see you in your house. In fact, the more your
house makes it difficult to guess who lives there (age, religion, gender etc),
the better. Take down personal photos, religious emblems, the cute collection
of mini ceramic frogs, etc. Analyze your stuff for whether it’s morally,
politically, or otherwise socially objectionable and remove all of it. You
don’t want to eliminate buyers because they are turned off by your personal
While you are
depersonalizing it’s also a good time to declutter as the two go hand in hand.
The more simple and understated your home is, the more likely buyers can see
the home for what it is and imagine themselves in it. When you have too much
stuff cluttering walls and counters and shelves, buyers turn their focus toward
those things and sometimes even make the assumption in logic that if you are
cluttery, then you are disorganized, which means maybe you don’t take care of
the house as well or as on time as you should. A good rule of thumb is to box
up or store at least half of the smaller items displayed in your home.
For example, how much is
on your kitchen counter right now? Now imagine reducing that number to just
three things. What would you choose to keep versus store? Some sellers are
benefited by going to other open houses in their area and looking at how other
people have decluttered and arranged what is left. Online pictures, such as
what is found on Pinterest, can help too. Often you can get some good ideas on
what works visually just by seeing how others do it. When you are all done
decluttering, clean your home like never before because buyers notice dirt and
grime. Hire a maid service if you have to.
Lure Them In
The outside of your home
is as important as the inside, especially the front entry area. Before an open
house, take care of simple yard maintenance such as mowing, edging and weeding
flower beds. A fresh layer of mulch adds color especially in winter months when
not much is blooming. At your front door, clean off spider webs, blown leaves,
and place a large, colorful pot of annuals or anything you can buy in season.
Complete Your Honey-Do
While you have the yard
power tools out, dust of your workbench and take a walk around your house
inside and out. Make a list of all maintenance issues such as wiggly door
handles, missing fascia, paint that has chipped, etc. and repair them before
the open house. Buyers see even the smallest of maintenance issues as an
extension of the condition of larger items such as roofs, plumbing and major
appliances and assume you haven’t taken care of the home. You might talk to
your realtor about a pre-inspection to deal with all home maintenance and
problems upfront, before you get into contract with a buyer.
Once you have taken the
above steps and you are ready for the actual open house, there’s one last thing
to plan. Protecting your valuables and identity. It might be rare, but
criminals do use open houses as a way to case a house or to find collateral to
steal identities. Make sure indoor safes are locked and hidden. Store
heirlooms, checkbooks, prescriptions, and valuable jewelry away from prying
eyes. Utilize a reliable, trustworthy, identity theft protection service to see
you through the entire listing and sales process.
love to buy a house, and if it weren't for that pesky down payment, you'd be
sitting pretty in a place of your own, right? You're not alone. Not
surprisingly, the "top challenge for would-be homebuyers is the down
payment requirement," said The Mortgage Reports. In a recent study,
"Over half of potential buyers claimed saving a down payment was a bigger
issue than credit scores, income needed or housing prices."
are some creative ways to get there.
for down payment assistance
homebuyers don't realize that these programs even exist. "Down payment
grants are designed to help eligible buyers bridge the gap between their
savings and the required down payment for a mortgage," said The Mortgage
Reports. "This money doesn't usually have to be repaid."
are available through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and
typically have eligibility requirements that are tied to income. In addition,
"You must be a first-time buyer purchasing a primary residence," they
said. You can check for available grants here.
little bit helps! Get used to paying for things with cash, which is another tip
financial analysts recommend to keep track of spending. At the end of the day
or week, put aside any change. You'll be surprised how it can add up over a few
for a better savings account
banks offer special rates or even kick in money if you open a new account and
maintain a certain balance. If you already have a good head start on your down
payment, this could be a great way to get a bump. Also pay attention to any
fees you are currently paying at your bank just to have your savings and
checking accounts. If you can't negotiate to get them removed, it might make
sense to open fee-free accounts elsewhere.
the best out there: "Discover Online Savings has no minimum deposit
requirement and offers a competitive APY of 1.40%. In addition, there's no
monthly fee and no minimum balance requirement," said NerdWallet in their
review of the best savings accounts of 2018. "Discover is a decent choice
for simple, stress-free savings." Discover also offers bonuses that are
tied to a $15,000 minimum deposit.
up an auto transfer from your checking to your savings on payday is a
relatively painless way to pump up your down payment. You'll want to keep track
of what's coming out, and when. This is no time to get hit with an overdraft
many types of loans, the down payment can come via a gift. Just make sure you
know the rules so you don't run into trouble. "Even though lenders do
allow gift funds, they also require mortgage applicants to disclose the source
of these funds," said Cherry Creek Mortgage. "There are specific
rules for using gift funds as a down payment. For starters, your lender will
need information about the donor. Donor requirements vary by lender and
mortgage program. Some programs only allow gifts from a blood relative, or in
some cases, a godparent. Other programs, however, will also allow gifts from a
charitable organization or a non-blood relative. Speak with your lender for
information on acceptable donors."
all raises and bonuses
you get a raise or a bonus during your saving period, don't celebrate by
blowing it on a new living room set. Pretending it didn't happen and socking
the money away will pay off in the end. "For a set period of time,
consider saving all extra income you receive from work," said Quick and
Dirty Tips. "For instance, if you get a 3% raise, increase your down
payment savings percentage by at least that amount. Or if you get quarterly or
annual bonuses, transfer the full amounts to savings."
some money toward repairing your credit
might seem counterintuitive if you're trying to get together as much cash as
possible to buy your house, but it might just be that doing a little credit
repair can improve your buying position, which could lower your interest rate
and lower the amount of money required by the bank for your down payment. A
conversation with your lender or broker and a detailed look at your credit
history may yield some surprising suggestions.
is a great time to take a good look at your stuff and decide what's going with
you, and what's not making the trip to your new place. "You likely have
some used furniture you no longer use or old clothes that are no longer in
style. Sell it to make a few more bucks to use for your down payment,"
said Bankrate. "You can sell your items on sites like Craigslist, eBay,
Facebook and Amazon to turn your trash into someone else's treasure."
your cable, Internet, and phone providers
may be lost money floating around out there. Bundling your services with one provider
can create dramatic savings. It might also be time to look at new providers -
just make sure you won't incur a penalty or cost when you move and have to have
your services set up again.
your coffee - and your lunch - at home
there are two people buying one coffee each at $4 every day, or $8 total, that
adds up to $240 per month! So by getting a good coffee maker and putting it in
a TO GO cup, you can potentially save more than $2,880 over the course of a
year," said Blue Water Credit. "If you think coffee was expensive,
add up all of those $12, $20, and $25 lunches at restaurants when you step out
from work. Even if you only buy lunch three times a week, that could easily end
up with $50 a week in savings per person, or about $400 a month, or $4,800 per