Location. Location. Location. The best neighborhood will sell a home, Most Realtors will tell you. It also helps your home hold its value and makes it easy to sell when the time comes. If you have found the home of your dreams but don’t know much about the area it is in – how do you make the decision that the neighborhood that the home is the “right” neighborhood?
Research the Neighborhood Values Online: Because of the world wide web, anyone can find out any detail about anything and anyone. Become a private investigator! Discover all the information about a neighborhood using your internet skills. Use the MLS, Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia to name just a few to research the sales and rentals over the last few years. Learn the turnaround time of homes that have sold. Have your Realtor get the comparables. Fast home sales indicate a desirable neighborhood.
Research Crime Rates Online: Find the crime map that many cities use to display the types of crimes and the density in different areas.
Meet the Neighbors: If there is an area of town that you love, become its expert. Go to the local shops, restaurants, open houses, coffee shops and introduce yourself to people. People love to talk about where they live and the people who work in these establishments can give you all sorts of information.
Grab aFancy Coffee: When you see coffee shops and upscale retail chains, it’s a sure sign that the neighborhood is on the up and up, if not already arrived. These establishments have done the research and open where the investment is worth.
Research the School District: Find the test scores of the neighborhood’s school system online or stop into the local high school. Home prices are usually higher where the test scores are hearty.
Home Values Hold: Again, hit the world wide web and find the historical sale prices in the county’s property tax records. If the neighborhood you love isn’t online, ask your Realtor for the sales trends.
Watch for the Red Flags: It’s not as hard as you think to discover a neighborhood on the decline. Look online for the number of short sales, foreclosures and drive around to see the number of vacant properties. Is there a highway being built too close to the neighborhood? A sure sign of decline.
The Bottom Line: Do you think you might move again within five to seven years? If you believe you may, you want to make sure your home will be marketable then. A good Realtor coupled with your private investigator online skills will be able to help you feel confident in the future of the area. Before even looking at homes, narrow down the neighborhoods. Find the community that meets all your needs AND will have homes that will hold their value.
Thinking about selling your first home? Besides the fact that it will take a lot of time and energy, it may be very emotionally challenging. To have buyers come into your home and open closets, cabinets, and drawers, walk through your bedrooms and look behind furniture, and then to criticize the home you have loved is not easy. Eventually, there will be a buyer who wants it and will inevitably offer far less to buy it than you have it listed as.
The first hurdle to overcome after you have made the decision to sell is to let go of your home emotionally. Start looking at it as a positive financial opportunity and distance yourself from all the aspects of the property that you have created memories. It will be hard to pull your heart away from remembering the moments that you painted, decorated and picked out “just the right carpeting” for your child’s first bedroom. Acknowledge that selling your home is going to be stressful and emotional upfront and that will enable you to make good decisions going forward.
Think of your home as a product that you are selling. This should help you detach emotionally. Start removing personal items like pictures, knick-knacks, etc. to begin staging which will make it feel less like your home. If you put special hardware on cabinets and can’t imagine parting with them, replace them. A good Realtor will give you great recommendations to help make your home more neutral – maybe painting or pulling carpet – all of which will help you to see your home as a product and will help you emotionally.
It’s common for a seller to overprice their home when they are emotionally attached. The price of your home needs to be based on the market and the comparable properties, not the value you, someone with memories, puts on the home. After a Realtor helps you with the price, don’t get offended by offers that don’t meet your calculations. If a buyer makes a low offer, it’s good to know that there is someone who loves your home enough to even make an offer. Let your Realtor negotiate and learn what the seller likes and dislikes (which may hurt your feelings) so you are able to keep your emotions out of the selling process.
The Bottom Line: Make sure you are truly ready to sell your home. Make a list of the pros and cons of why you want to move and evaluate. Have an experienced Realtor help you once you have made the decision and realize that sentimental value does not translate to monetary value so you will need help pricing your home accordingly. Keep your emotions in check, make a clean break and put your energy and time into making your new house the home of your dreams!
Do you have plans to buy a home soon? Be sure you are armed with the best Realtor in your area. If you aren’t paying cash for your new home and will be getting a mortgage, you will want to follow some quick advice.
Don’t damage your debt to income ratio by making a major purchase before closing. If for some reason you can not wait to by a new car, you might have to wait on owning a home. The bank could easily determine that car payment would hinder your ability to pay your mortgage. Wait until after you get the house to do some spending.
Don’t change jobs. The lenders like to see consistency versus constant job hopping. From their perspective, your employment and income are paramount to your ability to make your payments. Generally, there are three different characteristics of your employment and income that are considered – the amount, the history and the stability. Many lenders will do a final check to verify that your employment and income hasn’t changed since your final loan approval was issued. Further, some lenders will require 30 days of paycheck stubs for new employment. If you can’t provide these stubs, it could delay your mortgage approval. Worse, it could result in your mortgage application being declined.
As a home buyer, never surrender your earnest money to a For Sale by Owner Seller. There isn’t anything stopping the sellers from spending the money before the transaction goes through. If the deal should fall through you’ll have to fight to get the deposit back. It should be put into a trust account. Find an attorney willing to hold the deposit for you until the transaction is finalized. Your contract needs to state what will happen to the deposit in the event that the transaction falls through.
Stay practical and realistic during the home buying process. Don’t let your emotions get in the way. Occasionally, sellers are willing to fix some of the problems with the home and others may not be as willing. Don’t let that refusal close the door on your dream home. Conversely, you shouldn’t let your loyalty to the home blind you to costly repairs down the road. You certainly don’t want to be in a money pit.
Talk to your insurance company right away. Failing to line up the insurance will lead to delays in closing. Your lender will more than likely require that you purchase at least some homeowners insurance before settling on your mortgage. In most cases, you’ll be asked to provide proof that you’ve prepaid one year’s worth of coverage before the lender will consider closing.
If the appraisal comes in too low, don’t panic. There are several solutions to this dilemma. Your emotions may be running high and making a good decision can be difficult. A skilled Realtor will be an invaluable asset at this point and be able to guide you through. It’s their job to keep up with the details, daily, of your deal and if the seller won’t come down in price, as painful as it may be, you may have to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario – walking away.