Author: mimin

Helpful Hints for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a house can be a daunting task, even for someone who has
owned several homes. My husband and I recently purchased our first home together, and it was hard to find good advice that we truly found useful. We had to learn a lot on our own, but at least now we feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the whole process. Here are some helpful hints we picked up along the way:

1. Use your online resources.

Almost every state and local government has a website where you can research real estate information. The data on home sales, taxes, and neighborhoods is invaluable when you are shopping for a home. We were able to find out the most recent sale prices in the neighborhood we selected, and we didn’t have to rely on a real estate agent to get the data for us. Doing the research yourself will make you more knowledgeable about the market, which is key to making a good purchase.

2. Be realistic about how much you can spend.

Try to buy a home in a price range that allows you to put down 20%. If you put down less than this, you will have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance) to protect the lender in case you default on the loan. I know that 20% is a lot, but it’s not unrealistic. You may not be able to do it on your first home, but hopefully you can on your second home. The profits from the sale of my condo enabled my husband and me to have more than enough for the 20% down payment on our home. But we didn’t put it all down on the home – we saved some of the profits for the unexpected expenses that come with buying a home. We suggest that you do the same.

3. Shop for a home in the winter, preferably around the holidays.

Since most people just aren’t interested in buying a home when
they are trying to deal with the holidays, you can pretty much be one of the few buyers out there. We bought our home right before Christmas, and it was definitely a buyers market. We had our pick of homes and were able to underbid on the asking price, even though we live in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country.

4. Use a smaller mortgage company that can offer personal service.

People tend to go with large, well-known mortgage companies, since that’s all they know. But the smaller, regional companies provide excellent customer service, and can often give you better rates than the big companies. Since they don’t advertise and instead rely on word-of-mouth, they have to be good in order to get your service. We started off with a big-name company, but in the end, we went with a regional company because they had better rates and better customer service.

5. Always have a home inspection.

I think most people know this fact already, but it is really
important in areas with a hot real estate market. It can be easy to get caught up in bidding wars, and to want to get a house at all costs. Some friends of ours wanted a house so badly that not only did they overbid, but they also waived the home inspection. They got the house – and right along with it they got several thousand dollars worth of damage that would have been found in an inspection.

As a final note, try to remember that buying a home doesn’t have
to be scary. It’s very exciting to own your own home, so think ofall the good things that will come once you have made it through the home-buying process. If you follow the advice above, then you should be well-equipped to make it through unscathed.

Should First Time Home Buyers Have an Appraisal, Survey, and Home Inspection?

There are lots of reasons for first time home buyers to skip the appraisal, survey and home inspection, and all those reasons are in the form of dollars. But keep in mind that all three of these services can save you time, money and heartache in the long run. To fully understand, take a look at what the home buyer will get for the money and how it can help you get great loan options – and a great home.

If you are looking for a first time home buyer home loan, you may be having some trouble with the entire process. You’ve probably seen advertisements for low loan rates, but when you become the home buyer, you may have been surprised by the rates and terms of loans you’ve been offered. Having an appraisal can help assure the lender that the property is worth the amount you’re borrowing and that their loan is secure.

Many home buyers confuse the appraisal, survey and home inspection. An appraisal is an expert’s opinion on the fair market value of a piece of property, home, building or combination of these. It’s defined as the amount a “willing buyer would pay a willing seller” for that property on the open market. While the property may be worth much more than that to you as a home buyer for some specific reason (it’s next door to your mother, has wheelchair accessibility or is simply your dream home), that’s not what determines an appraised value.

If you’re looking at a particular first time home buyer program, a home inspection may be required. The appraiser will make an inspection of the home and property, but remember that appraisers are generally not trained in home inspection. The appraiser will typically note that he assumes all mechanical systems (electric, heat/air, and plumbing) to be in good working condition.

A home inspector will crawl under the house, examine electrical wiring and look for problems and potential problems. After the home inspection, the home buyer will know if there are things that need to be fixed and you could even have some ideas of what repairs will be needed in the near future. Many first time home buyer grants also require both home inspections and appraisals. Again, the purpose is to protect both the home buyer and the lender.

The survey is done by a licensed professional and his goal is to assure the home buyer and lender that the property exists as it’s described. A survey may not be required in an urban area because boundaries are typically very small and are usually well established. But in rural areas and especially with large tracts of land, surveys are very important. Most people can’t tell the difference between 10 acres and 12 just by looking, but a surveyor can determine that the property lines are where the descriptions indicate, and that the amount of property actually available is consistent with what the home buyer is paying for. This can also indicate when there are encroachments – other buildings, fences, etc. that are on the property but shouldn’t be there.

First time home buyers may be thinking that the requirements like appraisals, surveys and inspections make the process less than appealing, and you may very well be right. But keep in mind that this is a big financial investment – the biggest most people will ever make. Even if you have a perfect credit rating, a lender is taking a chance on a first time home buyer. Having appraisals, surveys and inspections cane make you as the home buyer and the lender more confident that you’re making a good decision.

What Are Modular Homes?

Have you been interested in looking at modular homes but want to learn more first before diving headfirst into the investment? Well, you’ve reached the right place. In this article, you will have a chance to learn what a modular home is, as well as the pros and cons of buying one and where you can go to find more information if needed.

What are Modular Homes?

A modular home is a home that is built in sections at a factory or plant and then is later delivered to a construction site where it is pieced together on location. This process of construction is quite the opposite of general on-site construction, which starts and finishes at the location. Modular homes are prepared in an assembly line fashion and are then transported when completed. This process is said to save customers time and money – a major selling point.

These unique homes have the look and feel of a traditionally-built house and meet all building and local zoning codes. They can be built to be hurricane-resistant or hold a sturdier frame for an earthquake prone area. No matter what specifications the owner and local zoning area have, most modular home manufacturers have learned to make adjustments that will meet the needs of those specifications.

Pros and Cons

One of the pros of buying modular homes is the process of prefabrication and indoor construction. The pre-fabrication process at an indoor location is beneficial for two reasons. One, the mess of fabrication that would have been accumulated on site is now handled before the home ever reaches your property, which results in less time spent cleaning up after construction. And two, by working at an indoor facility to get it partially constructed, your home is not susceptible to all of the outdoor elements including rain and animals that can adversely affect construction time and cause weather wear and tear to your home before you move in.

Another pro is the strength of modular homes. Many manufacturers claim that these homes are built to be stronger than traditionally-constructed homes – initially, at least. This is because many of the homes are built with screws instead of nails and add glue to the joints to enable an easier transport to the site. While they are said to be initially stronger, it has not yet been determined that they are stronger over a long period of time.

The major reason, however, that people say they love these homes is because of their lower price tag. Builders claim that because they are large manufacturers they can bargain for discounts on materials with the suppliers, which can cut the cost of the home considerably.

And now for the cons:

The first con of the modular home is that they are often compared to a cardboard box. In other words, you are said to be living in a boring carbon copy of tons of other homes built in the same facility if you buy one of these homes. However, many manufacturers have stepped up their game and are now offering custom options that homes look more original.

The second con is the financing issues that the home can present. Because these homes are still new on the home lending scene, many lenders are apprehensive about financing them; and if they do decide to finance one it will be for much less money than the traditional, on-site home. This can cause a problem for both the manufacturer and buyer as they don’t have as many resources available to create a nice home.

And the third con is the challenge of site access. One issue that on-site constructors do not have to contend with is the idea of driving a large home through narrow streets; but a modular home builder does. It may be that the customer wants to place their home in a remote area, and when the builder drives to the proper they realize that a low overpass, gated community or narrow road may cause a problem when trying to deliver the home.

Should I Buy a Modular Home?

Of course, I cannot determine your specific situation to say “yay or nay” to you buying a modular home. It is up to you to determine the obvious pros and cons and then look at your personal and family situation to see what works best for you. But if you are interested in more information on the ins and outs of buying modular homes, then you might want to visit the following websites for more information.

This website accumulates several different websites that tell you the advantages and disadvantages of buying modular homes as well as where you can find manufacturers and builders in your area to get started. Not a bad resource. is a website that tries to give you access to “the best modular homes, dealers, home builders, communities and new home builder web sites” in the country. They claim to be the largest database on the Internet for these homes, and with their high ranking in the search engines, they just might be.

Through their site you can find information about homes in your area by selecting your state, price range, manufacturer, floor plans or builder, and home type. Once you’ve conducted the search, you will be taken to a list of homes that fall into the criteria you pre-selected. In addition to searching for homes on the site, you can find informative articles that can help you make your decision.

Modular homes have become a nice alternative to people who are interested in paying less for a nice home. They’ve found that the benefits can be plentiful when they consider the cost reduction, lack of extended construction time, reduction in mess at the site, and sturdier home to live in. However, these modular homes do run the risk of having a “cooker cutter” beige box look, so it is important that you do your research before committing to buying one. The more you learn about the pros and cons of these homes, the more likely you are to make an informed decision that you won’t later regret.

Exclusive Report – 8 Steps To Success – How To Sell Your Home Fast & Make Maximum Profit!

When you sell your home, it will be the largest transaction you ever participate in (other than buying a new home). You need to inform yourself and get educated with the facts before you sign on the dotted line.

This report will teach you how to not only sell your home more quickly, but how to get top dollar in the process. We will examine 8 critical steps to success and how you can apply them to your situation.

Tip #1 – How to Maximize Profit

Ever heard the old saying ‘There are three factors in selling Real Estate – location, location, location’?

While this may hold true to a certain extent, location isn’t everything. No matter where your home is located, there ARE things you can do to get maximum profit upon selling.

First, you need to make your home sparkle and shine. Imagine that you are in a contest called ‘The Cleanest Home in America’ and you are trying to win a top prize. Well, you don’t need to imagine, because you are in a contest. There are hundreds of other sellers in this area who are trying to get YOUR buyer to purchase THEIR home and you WILL lose out if your home isn’t spic and span.

Fix every problem, no matter the size. If a door squeaks when you open it, use some oil on the hinges. If the paint in one room has some minor peeling, re-paint that room. Potential buyers will look at everything.

Tip #2 – Act like a Home Buyer, think like a Home Buyer

How hard is it for a potential buyer to obtain information about your home? Do they have to jump through hoops to get a return call from your Real Estate Agent? Do they have to come to an open house just to find out about all of the amenities your home offers?

Never make it hard for a buyer to do business with you. Sound simple? It’s not. You would be amazed at the amount of buyers who simply move on and give up on a certain home because they can’t get the info they want and need in an efficient manner.

Do yourself a favor. Before selecting an Agent, call up the Agent acting like you are a buyer and want information on one of their listings. Then, see how long it takes for them to return your call. The service you receive will be a good indicator of the service and response time your potential buyers will receive. Also, if your agent is running an ad for your home in the local homes and land magazine, make sure they insert plenty of info about your home and its amenities. Buyers want to know the sq footage, the price, and main amenities right off the bat. Do the legwork for the buyer and make it easy!

Tip #3 – Find the Best Real Estate Agent. the Easy Way

Trying to find a great Real Estate Agent can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Every agent in town will try to convince you that they’re #1 for this or that. All of them will promise you the moon, but few will be able to deliver. We participate in many Real Estate transactions each month and, as a result, we are very familiar with the top Agents in this area. We would be happy to introduce you to a top agent, at no cost to you. To sign up for our NO-COST, no obligation ‘Agent Locator Service’, visit our website.

Tip #4 – Always Sell First

There are a number of reasons we advise you not to move out before you sell. The main reason is that vacant homes take longer to sell. Did you know that scientific tests have proven, time and time again, that vacant homes are more difficult to sell, because they appear to be lonely, cold, forgotten places?

Tip #5 – Dot your ‘i’s’ and cross your ‘t’s’

Even if your Agent has assured you that the purchase agreement / contract is complete and correct, always double-check it yourself to make sure. It’s important that you read and understand the contract the buyer will sign. Make sure that everything has been properly disclosed. A good buyer discloses everything, including any repairs the home will require, as well as all terms and additional costs. All of these should be spelled out clearly in the contract.

Tip #6 – Learn How to Negotiate Properly

When you are done reading this report, make sure you check out our No-Cost Report entitled ‘Negotiating Tips of Top Sellers’. Visit the Home Seller section of our website and click on the link there.

Tip #7 – The Price is Right. (Or is it?)

Price is the most important item to consider when selling your home. If your home is priced too high, your home will languish on the market for months. If the price is too low, you will lose thousands of dollars in hard-earned equity needlessly.

Remember – It’s not what your house is worth, but what someone is willing to pay. You need to gauge market conditions properly for your area, and then set your price a bit lower than the average. If you price your house according to the market, it’s not likely to sell quickly. That’s because the top 10% or 20% of houses with the best prices are selling each month in this area. If your house isn’t in that lower 20% range, then it isn’t likely to sell as quickly.

Tip #8 – Get Prepared and Do Your Homework

If you are selling your home, statistics say that you will likely buy a home here or somewhere in this state. You will soon be on the other side of the deal when you become a home buyer. You’re going to participate in the largest financial transaction of your life the next time you buy. Are you ready? Have you done your homework?

Are you aware of the supply and demand statistics of home inventory vs. sales made this year? Are you aware of what % of total homes listed for sale actually sold last month, and more importantly, how that statistic can positively affect how you structure your purchase offer? Have you assessed the best use of your cash and planned to maximize your leverage?

In short, have you prepared a Home Purchase Strategy? We participate in many real estate transactions every month. Over time, we’ve learned a thing or two. Our staff would like to help you develop your personal strategy and consequently help you save thousands of dollars in the process.

Home Selling: How To Set The Right Asking Price

Many homes remain unsold for a long time because they’re over-priced. Pricing your home right is essential if you want to sell your home in quick time. Expecting more for your home than the rates that prevail in the market will only delay the sale of your home, unless your home has something more to offer than other homes. When it comes to pricing your home for sale, you need to consider that your home is going to be competing with other similarly priced homes in your area and unless there’s a short supply of homes for sale, you’re going to have to set a competitive price.

All that said, some homes do sell for more as do some homes for less. It all comes down to how you set your asking price, how you go about negotiating and what are your costs involved in the selling process. Here, we’ll discuss how you can determine a fair asking price for your home in prevailing market conditions.

Real estate agents – Whether you intend on using the services of an agent to sell your home or not, they will call you to offer their services so you may as well get them to provide you with some information. Agents will usually offer to give you a free “Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)” of homes recently sold and presently on sale in your neighborhood. This data should be useful in helping you set a reasonable asking price, keeping the features of your home in mind and how it compares with the others.

Internet Listings – Browsing internet home listings will give you a fair idea of how much homes are priced in your neighborhood and how much you can sell it for. There are plenty of ‘by owner’ sites with many internet listings and there is also which offers MLS listings.

Driving by the neighborhood – Surveying the area yourself and visiting homes presently on sale will give you a good idea of how much you can quote for your home.

Home Appraisal – Getting a real estate appraiser to put a value on your home, based on its condition and recent home sales in your neighborhood, should give you a fair price range in which you can sell your home. The appraisal can also be used to help justify your price when negotiating with buyers. (Get a free home appraisal done here.)

So set your price after investigating two or more sources, so that you can justify for the price you set. Your home will sell fast as long as there’s a reasonable amount of demand for homes in your neighborhood and you don’t overprice your home when compared to other homes in your area.

Best of luck with the selling of your home!

Five Things to Help Sell Your Home Fast, and For More Money

Selling your home requires some thought and a clear plan of action. Here are five things to consider when you’re getting ready to sell your home:

1) Know Your Buyers

Are most of the homes in your neighborhood being bought by first-time or move-up buyers? Depending on which group will be looking at your home, you’ll want to do the things that will make your home appealing to those buyers.

First-time buyers are hoping to gain more control of their environment by making the move from renter to homeowner. Their psychological needs include such things as safety and security, comfort, and control of their living space.

Moving-up buyers want those things, too, of course, but they’re generally looking for more room and increased prestige. Regardless of which group is buying homes in your area, you’ll want to concentrate your improvement efforts toward attracting them.

2) Know Your Selling Season

The time of year you’ll be marketing your home will dictate your decorating choices and color scheme. Use cool colors like blue, green, and grey when selling in spring and summer, and warm colors like yellow, red, maroon if you’ll be marketing your home in the fall and winter. Envision your final product as either a cooling desert oasis or a warm haven, depending upon the selling season.

3) Clean up, Fix up

Get rid of all non-essential clutter in your home that will limit a buyer’s imagination. You want them to be able to envision themselves in your home. Once you’ve packed all personal knickknacks, take a look at your house from a stranger’s perspective. Then address whatever repairs will make your home appeal to a stranger by either doing the work yourself or having it done professionally.

4) Stage Your Home

The staging of your home can be the most fun part of the selling process. If any interior space feels too empty, add plants to bring nature indoors. Delicate green ferns, spiky grey foliage, and cut flowers will support the emotional atmosphere you’re trying to create for potential buyers. You can also support the buyer’s sense of smell by spraying a mixture of natural essential oils and water into the air.

5) Make Showing a Joy for Buyers

When you show your home to potential buyers, you want the experience to be as enjoyable as possible. For the sake of safety, it’s wise to have someone with you when you’re showing your home, but always send any small children or annoying pets to a friend’s house until potential buyers have gone.

Taking the time to work out a selling strategy, and then following these five simple, but important, steps can help sell your home faster, and for substantially more money.

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.

How to Show Your Home for Sale

When buyers make an appointment to see your home they have already made several important decisions. They have selected your neighborhood as a possible location. Your lot and exterior style appeals to them. Your price is within their range. If the floor plan and interior style works for them, and if the buyers feel a sense of trust in your home, they will move to the contract stage. Here are some tips to help you make the most of this important step in the sale of your home – the showing.

1. Setting Showing Appointments

Homes may be shown by appointment with the Realtor, appointment with the owner, or by using the house key placed in a lockbox. The lockbox is a popular system in many areas, and facilitates showings by all members of the local Multiple Listing Board. To arrange a showing, agents must first call your home or cell number. If you do not answer, they may leave a message, and proceed with the showing. Most lockboxes record the agent’s identity and time of showing. Whether your home is shown by special appointment or by the lockbox system, the objective is to make your home easy to show to potential buyers. This is your first contact with the buyer, and you should make them feel welcome in your home.

When you receive a call from a Realtor for a showing, keep in mind that he/she is showing lots of homes, and it is difficult to set precise times. Be flexible on the timing, and allow a window of one hour for arrival, if possible. If you are going to be at home, you may ask the Realtor to alert you when they are 15 minutes away. You may occasionally receive a last minute call, with the visitors already in your driveway. If you are prepared for a showing, invite them to come in. If you are not ready, let the Realtor know that you need some time to prepare. Always thank Realtors for trying to show your home. You need them to come back!

2. Consider Children & Pets

If you have children it is very important to educate them on the showing procedure. They should know that real estate agents will be calling for appointments to show their home, and they should know how to respond. If they are at home by themselves during the day, they will need to let in the agent and buyers, and vacate the house during the showing. They may wait in the backyard or go to a neighbor’s house. Televisions and video games should be turned off. Hopefully, they will know how to tidy up the kitchen. Children must know that an advance phone call by the agent is required for a showing. They must not allow entry to anyone who comes to the door without an agent.

Pets pose special problems for showings. If pets are left in the home during the day, leave a note alerting the agents that a pet is in the house. Give instructions as to how your pets should be handled. For example, “Cat must not be allowed outdoors.” Often pets are fearful or uncertain about strangers entering the house when you are not home. Many people are afraid of (or allergic to) pets, and are not happy to encounter them in the house. It would be best to crate your pets during showings, place them in a restricted area, such as the laundry room, or take them out of the house. Keep in mind that a great variety of people may enter your home, including children. If there is any uncertainty as to how your pets will react to strangers, you should remove them from your home during showings.

3. Provide Lots of Information

Have brochures laid out on a table for prospective buyers. Anticipate the information that would interest your buyers. Examples are: a copy of your survey or floor plan, photos of neighborhood amenities, school information, neighborhood newsletter, nearby country club, golf course, etc. Answer their questions early. Remember, prospective homeowners are choosing a home and community – a lifestyle.

4. Don’t Hang Around

Do not be present for the showing. Sit outside or run an errand. When you are there, buyers may feel that they are intruding. They will not discuss changes they might make to your home, or how they would use the space. This could limit the time spent in your home. Never take over the showing or attempt to sell your house. You do not know the buyer’s special interests, and may inadvertently turn them off. Remember that this not a social visit. Buyers need to make an emotional commitment to your home. They usually need some quiet time to experience your home and sense how they would enjoy living there. Your presence is distracting and inhibiting to potential buyers.

5. Appeal to Buyers With Sights, Sounds and Scents

People gather impressions about your house from all senses – sight, sound and smell. Improve your home’s appeal to all senses. Leave blinds open, and consider removing some screens. Natural light sells houses! Increase the sizes of your bulbs if the light is dim in certain areas. Put on some instrumental music, but keep it very low and mellow. Do not leave televisions on. Have the temperature cool in summer and warm in winter. Use pleasant scents, such as candles or potpourri. An unpleasant odor will have a very negative impact on a buyer’s reaction to your home. In particular, cigarettes and pet odors are a turn-off. Do not try to mask an unpleasant smell with another smell. Work toward a clean, fresh smell.

6. Have a Safe Showing

Keep in mind that the public will be entering your home, and consider their safety and yours. Do you have rugs, wires or small toys that could be stumbled over? Buyers should be able to move easily from room to room. You may need to remove some furniture to keep traffic patterns open. Leave your stairs completely free of clutter. Replace any missing handrails. Remove valuable objects from tables where they may be accidentally bumped. If you use candles for a nice scent, do not leave them burning when you leave the house. Do not leave money, guns, medicines, jewelry, x rated magazines or any personal items in public view. Consider your security, and the buyer’s safety as you prepare your home for viewing.

7. Set the Stage

Consider using a staging service to help you present your home. It should be perfectly clean and clutter free. Homes generally look better with furniture, but they must not appear crowded. Your furniture and accessories should give your home a very general appeal. Avoid strong political, personal or artistic statements. The focal point should be the house, rather than your family. Use decorative objects, such as pillows, framed photographs, books, fresh towels and flowers. Create a mood with natural and lamp lighting and soft music. The goal is to make potential buyers feel that they could move right in. Home buying is an emotional process. You must build a sense of trust and attachment to your home during the short time that buyers are in your home. They must positively imagine themselves enjoying your home and gardens.

Showing your home is an important part of the sales process. You only have a short time to gain the buyer’s interest in your home. Their time in your home should be handled with care and respect for their time. Each showing is important. Remember, you only need one buyer, but you don’t know which one.

Pricing Your Home for Sale

Professional appraisers sum it up in three words — buyers make value. Ultimately, the value of your home is what a reasonable buyer is willing to pay within a reasonable time. Setting an asking price for your home requires that you anticipate what most buyers would be willing to pay. This requires a close look at comparable home sales in your area, as well as making an assessment of the state of the real estate market itself. Pricing correctly is fundamental to the successful outcome in the sale of your home.

Market Analysis

Homes listed for sale and recent closed sales in your area will usually provide relevant comparable data for pricing your home. Closed sales show “market confirmed” prices, while listing prices indicate the current trend in pricing. Later, when your home is appraised for the buyer’s loan, the appraiser will only consider recent closed sales. Asking prices will not be considered. A sales price that is solidly based on recent sales of similar homes will not have a problem when the price is later reviewed by an appraiser. If your home is superior or inferior to most homes in the neighborhood, or if there are few or no nearby sales, then anticipating the responses of potential buyers will be more difficult. In this case, a trial and error strategy may be necessary. This is a sensitive area and requires a realistic assessment of your home and its market. For example, one very nice home was continually rejected because it had the master bedroom upstairs, and it was located in an area where most buyers were over the age of 45, with older children.

Real Estate Market

An important aspect of pricing is an assessment of the state of the real estate market. The market may favor buyers or sellers, or be in balance. An indicator of the quality of the market is the number of months of standing inventory in your market and price range. Consider your market area to be all neighborhoods that offer competing choices for your potential buyer. Here is how to do that:

Count the number of sales in your market area and price range for the past 12 months.

Divide the number of sales by 12, to get the number of sales per month (sales rate).

Count the number of homes on the market now.

Divide the number of homes on the market by the number of sales per month (sales rate).

This will show you the number of months it will take to clear the current inventory.

Seller’s Market

Less than 6 months of standing inventory is considered a seller’s market. In a seller’s market the number of buyers is large in proportion to the number of homes for sale. The demand for homes is greater than the supply. Buyers must compete with each other for the available inventory. There may be multiple offers received shortly after a property goes on the market. Buyers will submit the highest possible price and terms
that the market will support. Prices will trend upward. In a climbing market, pricing slightly above recent sales is appropriate.

Buyer’s Market

More than 8 months of inventory is considered a buyer’s market. In a buyer’s market the number of buyers is small in proportion to the number of homes for sale. This situation can be created by high interest rates, employment decline and excessive building. A low number of buyers equals a lower price. Sellers must compete with each other for available buyers. Prices trend downward. In a falling market, prices should be set at the lower end of the range, because time works against you. In six months prices may be lower. This may be difficult to do, especially if your home was purchased at a higher price.

Price Per Square Foot

“Dollars per square foot” is often used as tool for comparing homes of varying sizes to determine a list price. When price per square foot is used, it is important to keep in mind that you must make a sliding scale adjustment from larger to smaller homes. In other words, the larger the house, the lower the price per square foot for comparable homes. This is because the core square footage of a home has a higher value than the peripheral area. For example, the price per sq. ft. on a 1,000 sf home will be much higher than a 5,000 sf home, with other things being equal. We usually graph the neighborhood prices per sq. ft. to get a visual picture of the market in the neighborhood, as well to see how much the price per square foot declines from smaller to mid-sized to larger homes.

Should you price “high,” and hope for an offer?

Houses should not be priced over the market. This is not the best way to position your home for several reasons:

Your home will be shown to the wrong group of buyers, from whom you need an aggressive negotiator – someone who will
make a low offer.

You will inadvertently help to sell the competition. Your high price will convince buyers that another home is a good value.

Your “days on the market” is evident to buyers, and is a subtle but important factor in their decisions. Your best leverage occurs during the early marketing period.

How will you know if the price is correct?

The best affirmation of correct pricing is second looks from buyers. This indicates that your home appeals to buyers in your price range. There may be a few “nibbles” before a buyer comes forward who is ready to act. It helps to get feedback from Realtors and potential buyers. Keep in mind that they will often be reluctant to say “negative” things. The summary of feedback is more important than what they say. Are you getting “nice” rejections or are you getting second looks?

How will you know if the price is incorrect?

You may have steady showings, but lukewarm responses. This indicates that are buyers, but they have other choices with more competitive prices. Or, you may have very few showings. In this case, the buyer pool for your area, or for the style or condition of your home is small. This will require a strategy of more competitive pricing and a longer marketing time. Remember that a small buyer pool, for any reason, is a “buyer’s market” and requires more aggressive pricing.

How long should you market a home at a given price?

There is no uniform time frame for marketing at set price. I think about 8-10 showings is a reasonable number for feedback regarding the price. This usually corresponds to about 2 – 6 weeks for an average home in a balanced market. About 30 days marketing time for a given price could be good a rule of thumb. However, this may be too short for your home if you have an unusual or very high end home for which there is a small market. Or, 30 days may be too long for your home if you need to move fast.

What happens if your home does not sell in a reasonable time?

If your home has been on the market for months with no offers, you have been given a clear message that the price is set too high. This is particularly true if showings have slowed down and there are few prospects coming to see it. What you do at this point depends on whether you really need to sell. If you’re not really motivated to move soon, you can always wait for the market to catch up to the price you want. It would be best to take your home off the market and wait for better conditions. Buyers become suspicious of a house that’s been for sale for a long time. If you need to sell, consider a schedule for dropping your price until it reaches a level that attracts buyers. There’s no reason to say, “We simply can’t sell our house.” Houses will sell if the price is right.

How can you get top dollar for your home?

Although buyers will not pay more than market value, they will pay a premium for homes that are in excellent condition and well presented. With good condition and presentation, you can reach the high end of the price range achievable for your house. We will work with you to “create value” before your house goes on the market. When it goes on the market, we will make sure that your home is show beautifully to a wide audience.

Buyer Beware – Don’t Get Hosed By A Home Value

When you’re a first time home buyer, considering the home value of the property you’re interested in is all important. There’s not much point in fawning over a home you can’t even afford, or in one who’s supposed home value is definitely not worth your money.

For the first time buyer, the best way to make sure you get your money’s worth for a home is to get yourself a real estate agent to check the home value. Sure, there are people out there who regularly do real estate transactions without any agents involved, but they’ve been through the process several times and are familiar with the ins and outs of buying or selling a home. As a first time buyer, you certainly are not, no matter how much reading up you’ve done. Get yourself a buyer’s representative to get you the best deal on the home, to doublecheck that the home value is accurate, etc. A buyer’s agent is your advocate in the buying/selling process and is there to pilot the legalities involved in buying a home.

You should NEVER, EVER buy a home without getting a home inspection done. This ensures that all information regarding home value and condition the seller is giving you is on the up and up. Hiring a third, neutral party to check out the condition of the home and make sure the home value assessment is fair is the best way to make sure you’re not getting hosed.

Your home inspection should be as detail oriented as possible, leaving no stone left unturned. The home value of a property with a brand new, energy efficient water heater and central air conditioning system is bound to be higher than the home value of a property who’s water heater and air conditioner is 10 years old. And unfortunately, some homeowners have no problem stretching the truth about their home value and general home condition.

Home inspection should cover both the inside and outside of the home, as the condition of both is sure to have an effect on the home value and therefore the listing price of the home. On the outside, the inspection should cover the siding, the foundation, exterior brick and stone, roof, insulation, sidewalks and driveways and any porches or decks attached to the home. The condition of these factors can have a big impact on the home value and are easy to fake – a fresh coat of paint can go a long way to make siding look new. That’s why it’s important to have an expert inspect these things.

On the inside, an inspection should cover and ceilings, walls and moldings of every room, looking for loose pieces, cracks, drywall pulling away, etc. Both the electric and plumbing should be thoroughly inspected as well as the water heater, furnace and/or air conditioning unit. These things should all be checked for the condition, age and efficiency of the system. Older, inefficient models are bound to decrease the overall home value not to mention drastically increase your electric or heat bill. Inspections should also look at the garage, basement and attic, or any additions to the home to make sure they are all in good repair, meaning no stains or cracks, no water leaks, etc.

A property’s listing price and their home value aren’t necessarily going to be one and the same. It’s very possible that the asking price to purchase the home may be more or less than what the actual home value is – but that depends on the sellers. If the seller is trying to move as soon as possible, it’s likely they’ll drop the asking price to lower than the actual home value – in which case it’s a steal. Of course, on the other end, it’s possible that sellers may jack the listing price above the actual home value – maybe because the home is a good location, or they think they can get away with it.

Either way, using a buyer’s representative as well as a home inspector is a first-time buyer’s greatest defense against an inaccurate home value and jacked up listing price. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help!

How To Go About Selling Your Home On Your Own

In days of booming real estate, you would think that selling a home shouldn’t be too much of a task. And if it’s going to be that easy then why not do it on your own and save yourself on thousands of dollars in commissions. Well, you would be right in thinking so! Selling a home on your own has become much easier these days compared to earlier and it’s something that has been done successfully in the recent past by many homeowners. Nevertheless, you cannot totally eliminate the ‘option’ of considering the services of a real estate agent. It’s worth a try selling your home on your own but if things don’t seem to work out then it’s best to go back and rely on the services of a trusted agent you know.

So how should you go about selling your home on your own? Outlined below is a useful checklist of how you can go about selling your home on your own and points you’ll need to keep in mind while you go about the home selling process.

First things first. Before putting your home on the market, make sure your home is ready to sell. You don’t want buyers coming to your home and walking back without a trace of interest for reasons you could very well avoid. Spruce up your interiors, have your entry way done up, improve the curb appeal of your home, … Basically, do everything that you think would impress you if you were a buyer for your home. If you choose to make improvements to your home, do consider whether the cost of such improvements can be justified by a hike in the price of your home or in selling your home faster.

Next, you’ll need to set an asking price for your home. You may ask an agent to give you a comparative market analysis of homes in your area, you may look up data on how much homes in your neighbourhood have sold for in recent times or look around your neighbourhood for homes on sale and compare their prices. Make sure you don’t over-price your home. (You may get a free home appraisal done here.)

Importantly, put a ‘For Sale’ sign outside your home. The implications of this are quite obvious – it would tell your neighbours and passers-by that your house is for sale and the word will spread.

Compose a flyer for your home with picture and details of your home. You could put these flyers in a transparent folder on your ‘For Sale’ sign for interested buyers to take home with them to look through. Distributing these flyers in supermarkets and other stores will also help in increasing the chances of a quick sale.

Get a set of real estate contracts and disclosure forms. You may find these in some stores or you may also get them from the Internet.

Plan your advertising budget and the mediums you choose to adopt for advertising your home. You may choose from TV advertising, Newspaper Classifieds, Real Estate Magazines and Internet Ads. With a number of people using the Internet these days to begin their search for a home, advertising on the Internet proves to be a cost-effective medium.

Plan and execute an ‘Open House’ for buyers to come and inspect your home. Effectively, Saturday and Sundays would be ideal for such purpose.

Finally, you’ll need to rope in a real estate attorney to handle the closing, when you’ve got a buyer who’s presented you with a signed offer that’s perfectly acceptable to you.

Selling your home on your own will require some patience and perseverance on your part. It’s not something you can do if you’re too busy to be able to show your home to buyers or to be able to effectively market your home. Selling your home on your own though will save you a lot of money in real estate commissions and is something definitely worth the effort and time you put in. So, following the outlined points above should get you through most of the home selling process. And once your home’s sold, celebrate!